In March 2016, the personal email account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, was hacked in a spear-phishing attack. Supporters of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory falsely claimed the emails had coded messages that connected several high-ranking Democratic Party officials and U.S. restaurants with an alleged human trafficking and child sex ring.
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- Zupello, Suzanne (December 29, 2016). "13 Most WTF Stories of 2016". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 30, 2016. Retrieved December 31, 2016.
Welch was inspired to drive from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., armed with an assault rifle, to save enslaved children from the hidden chambers beneath Comet Pizza. Only one problem – there was neither a sex ring nor underground caverns with shackles of former slaves.
- Shalby, Colleen (May 24, 2017). "How Seth Rich's death became an Internet conspiracy theory". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 29, 2017.
Despite police statements and Rich's family concluding that his death was the result of an attempted robbery, the rumor spread within the same circles that churned out the bogus 'PizzaGate' story
- Farhi, Paul (May 17, 2017). "A conspiratorial tale of murder, with Fox News at the center". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on May 18, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
The Rich story has taken on elements of the Comet Ping Pong conspiracy, a false and preposterous tale involving Hillary Clinton and her supposed operation of a child-abuse ring at a District pizza restaurant.