Attorney Douglas Wigdor wants to depose President Trump and former Press Secretary Sean Spicer over a lawsuit that alleges the White House signed off on fake news.
“We’re going to treat this case the way we treat every other case… we’re going to seek to take, first of all, testimony and documents that might be relevant. Then we’re going to seek to take depositions,” Wigdor told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday.
A lawsuit filed on Tuesday morning by a Fox News contributor represented by Wigdor says the network worked with a wealthy Trump donor to fabricate a story about former DNC staffer Seth Rich’s murder, with the approval of the White House.
Longtime Fox News contributor Rod Wheeler filed the lawsuit against Fox News Channel on Tuesday in the Southern District of New York. Wheeler says that Fox News and the Trump supporter wanted to shift public attention away from Russia and made up quotes to help the narrative. The suit claims that an article by Malia Zimmerman was published to “establish that Seth Rich provided WikiLeaks with the DNC emails to shift the blame from Russia.”
“Not to add any more pressure but the president just read the article. He wants the article out immediately. It’s not all up to you. But don’t feel the pressure,” wealthy Trump supporter Ed Butowsky texted Wheeler, according to the suit, which was obtained by TheWrap. The “president” referred to in the alleged text message is President Donald Trump, the suit says.
“Incredibly, according to Butowsky, the President reviewed an article written by a Fox News journalist prior to its publication,” the suit says.
Butowsky has since said he was only joking about Trump being involved, but Wigdor isn’t buying it.
“This is not a laughing matter,” Wigdor told CNN. “There was no emoji at the end of it, there was no smiley face. It wasn’t a joke.”
Wigdor said that Trump may seek a protective order and mocked Trump for playing too much golf, “Hopefully he’ll find some time to sit down with me and answer some of my questions.”
Former Press Secretary Sean Spicer admitted that he met with Butowsky, but only as a favor to the prominent GOP donor. He said he was unaware that Trump had any contact with the supporter.
“That makes no sense,” Wigdor said.
Fox News president Jay Wallace provided the following statement to TheWrap: “The accusation that FoxNews.com published Malia Zimmerman’s story to help detract from coverage of the Russia collusion issue is completely erroneous. The retraction of this story is still being investigated internally and we have no evidence that Rod Wheeler was misquoted by Zimmerman. Additionally, FOX News vehemently denies the race discrimination claims in the lawsuit — the dispute between Zimmerman and Rod Wheeler has nothing to do with race.”