A former Marine, Kevin Doherty, was charged Monday with Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony and two counts of Malicious Wounding in an attack on a Republican lobbyist who had been investigating the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich. That near-fatal attack happened on March 13 in Arlington, Virginia.
The lobbyist, Jack Burkman, was meeting a person he believed was an FBI whistleblower in another investigation into the bureau’s handling of both the Clinton e-mail and Russian collusion investigations. He was shot twice, run over by an SUV, and left for dead last Tuesday. Doherty, who Burkman says nearly killed him, was one of the people Burkman had hired to investigate Rich’s murder.
After Seth Rich was shot dead in Washington, D.C. on July 8, 2016 — just as the news of WikiLeaks publishing a trove of damning DNC e-mails was rocking the establishment — many began connecting the dots between the leak of those e-mails and the murder.
Police said Rich’s murder was the result of a robbery in an area of the city with escalating levels of crime, including armed robbery. But when Rich was found shot twice in the back at 4:20 a.m., nothing was missing: He still had his watch, phone, and wallet. His father said, “If it was a robbery — it failed because he still has his watch, he still has his money — he still has his credit cards, still had his phone so it was a wasted effort except we lost a life.”
In late 2016, as the evidence continued to point in the direction of a political conspiracy involving killing Rich because he was WikiLeaks’ source, Burkman offered his services to the Rich family for free. He also offered a $130,000 reward for information leading to Rich’s killer.
One of the investigators he apparently hired was Rod Wheeler, a private investigator and former D.C. police homicide detective who — citing an unnamed source “inside the police department” — claimed that Rich’s laptop showed that he had been in communication with WikiLeaks.
Another investigator hired by Burkman was Doherty, the man who would try to kill him. As the Washington Post reported:
Doherty briefly worked for Burkman’s Profiling Project, which was formed to build a psychological portrait of Rich’s likely killer. While police have concluded Rich was likely shot during a random robbery, many conservatives have claimed he was killed as part of a political conspiracy. Burkman offered a six-figure reward for information on the shooting.
In July, Burkman fired Doherty and sent him a cease-and-desist letter. And while Burkman thought that was the end of it, Doherty didn’t. “He became somewhat angry because he thought the Profiling Project belonged to him,” Burkman told the Post, adding, “I just figured the matter was closed. But what happened is, I guess, he was simmering and simmering and simmering.”
On March 13, that “simmering” boiled over and Doherty set Burkman up for murder by reaching out to him and pretending to be an FBI whistleblower. When Burkman showed up at a Rosslyn Marriott hotel’s parking garage to pick up a package of papers related to his investigation of the FBI, Doherty tried to kill him. He was told to find the papers under a traffic cone and when he bent to look under the cone, he was shot twice in the backside and legs. As he tried to run away, Doherty ran over him with an SUV. When Doherty saw Burkman was still alive, Doherty backed up and tried again, but missed the second time before speeding away. Burkman told the Post, “It looked like he was coming to kill me.”
The Arlington Police Department issued a press release after Monday’s arrest. That release says Doherty was charged with Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony and two counts of Malicious Wounding and is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility without bond. The New American reached out to the detective assigned to the case, as well as the department’s public information officer, to ask why Doherty is not being charged with attempted murder. As of this writing, we have not received a response.
This is not the first attack Burkman has experienced in recent months. In January, he was attacked outside his home by someone wearing a mask. In that attack, Burkman was sprayed with a “caustic substance” later determined to be pepper spray. That attacker was also driving an SUV. As the Post reported at the time, Burkman was returning from a walk to the grocery store when a man exited the passenger side of an SUV in his driveway. That man put on a mask that “looked like something you would see in one of the movies of a bank robber” and had something in his hand as he approached Burkman. He said he thought, “The end is coming.”
The man sprayed him with pepper spray and struck him in the head before jumping back in the SUV and speeding away. Burkman said, “It looked professional, but who knows.”
Burkman has long been a controversial figure and has drawn negative publicity for more than his investigations of Rich’s murder and the FBI’s handling of both the Clinton e-mail case and the Russian collusion investigation.
Just hours before the attack in January, he had criticized U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson for her rebuke of Trump campaign official Rick Gates. Jackson had rebuked Gates for appearing in a video shown at a fundraiser that Burkman had organized to raise money for Gates’ legal defense. When she ordered Gates to explain both how his appearance in the video did not violate a gag order and his connection to Burkman, in response, Burkman issued a statement accusing Jackson of being a “one-woman crusade against free speech” and asking, “Is this Germany, 1943?”
So, while there are certainly other possible explanations for the attacks on Burkman, and a lot of people drive SUVs, and it may be merely a coincidence that he was shot twice in the back (as was Rich), it is noteworthy that he thought that the prior attack may have been a professional job. This most recent attack — if it turns out to be related — would connect both attacks to his investigation of the murder of Seth Rich. If that is the case, it is apparent that someone doesn’t want that murder solved.
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