Top Clinton Aide Turns Up Dead Before Congressional Testimony on Private Email Server-Reported as Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Top Clinton aide Johnston Wilson McGill, 34, was found dead of an apparent heart attack just one day before he was summoned to testify about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server by GOP Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina.
Given that there’s no record of a top Clinton aide named Johnston Wilson McGill, and that GOP Congressman Trey Gowdy wasn’t leading an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when rumors of McGill’s supposed death went viral, we’re reporting this one as fiction.
Reports of Johnston Wilson McGill’s sudden death started at Read Conservatives, a site that pedals unsourced conspiracy theories, with a story appearing under the headline, “Top Clinton Aide Summoned By Congress Turns Up Dead,” on March 31, 2017. The report, which was quickly shared nearly 50,000 times on social media, begins:
Just days after being summoned to appear before Trey Gowdy’s congressional committee to testify about Hillary Clinton’s email server, one of her aides was found dead at home of “natural causes.”
Johnston Wilson McGill, 34, was pronounced dead on his couch by a private doctor after suffering an apparent heart attack. A spokesman for Clinton’s former campaign said that Huma Abedin, Clinton’s deputy campaign coordinator, found McGill when she stopped by for coffee to discuss Clinton’s plans for a run for Mayor of New York.
Abedin told police in a statement that McGill suffered from an abnormal heart arhythmia and that his doctor had always said a sudden and massive cardiac event was a possibility. She also told her publicist to make sure that the whole world knew that he was planning to cooperate with the congressional panel.
Trey Gowdy’s office had no official statement but his top aide, Mandy Gonsales, said that the committee isn’t happy with the circumstances of McGill’s death or the fact that his own doctor was summoned to pronounce. Abedin says she called the private doctor because she hoped he could save her friend.
The first and most obvious problem with rumors about Johnston Wilson McGill’s death is that Trey Gowdy wasn’t investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server in March 2017 — and never has Gowdy previously led the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s investigation into the Benghazi terrorist attacks and concluded the investigation in July 2016, later publishing a report finding no evidence of wrongdoing by Clinton.
GOP Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has been the congressional point man for investigations into Clinton’s use of a private email server — not Gowdy. In February 2017, Chaffetz summoned a former Clinton computer specialist named Bryan Pagliano — not Johnston Wilson McGill — to testify before the committee, the Associated Press reports:
WASHINGTON— The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who has refused Democratic requests to investigate possible conflicts of interest involving President Donald Trump, is seeking criminal charges against a former State Department employee who helped set up Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday asking him to convene a grand jury or charge Bryan Pagliano, the computer specialist who helped establish Clinton’s server while she was secretary of state.
Pagliano did not comply with two subpoenas ordering him to appear before the oversight panel. The GOP-led committee later voted to hold him in contempt of Congress.
Another major issue with rumors of Johnston Wilson McGill’s death is that there’s no record of a Clinton staffer by that name existing outside of Read Conservatives story. That seems to indicate that the name — and the entire story — were made up to fuel new conspiracy theories about Clinton’s use of a private email server.
In conclusion, considering that Trey Gowdy never investigated Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, and there’s no record of a Clinton staffer named Johnston Wilson McGill, so we’re calling this rumor “fiction.”