White House press secretary Sarah Sanders denied Tuesday that President Trump reviewed before publication a retracted Fox News article linking the Seth Rich murder to leaked Democratic Party emails.
"The president had no knowledge of the story and it is completely untrue," Sanders said during the daily press briefing.
The claim was made in a lawsuit filed Tuesday by Rod Wheeler, a former police officer whose freelance investigation into the unsolved murder was central to the May 16 article.
The lawsuit alleges that investor Ed Butowsky sent Wheeler a text message two days before the article was published, saying Trump "just read the article" and "wants the article out immediately."
Wheeler's lawsuit alleges he was misquoted twice in the article about the murder of the Democratic National Committee staffer. He claims the article was intended as a distraction from news of the ongoing investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 election.
Wheeler denies telling the news network there was evidence Rich was communicating with WikiLeaks or that there was interference in the police investigation of the unsolved July 2016 murder.
Fox News president of news Jay Wallace denied many claims made in Wheeler's lawsuit, which alleges defamation and racial discrimination.
In a Tuesday morning statement, Wallace did not directly address the claims Trump reviewed the article, but said:
"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."
A Fox News spokesperson did not respond to a request for additional comment on the claim Trump reviewed the article. Butowsky did not immediately respond to a request for comment.