RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week
RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week
June 2 to June 8
'Scorched Earth': Mueller's Targets Speak Out
Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has ended his probe finding no Trump-Russia collusion, witnesses and targets of his sprawling, $35 million investigation have agreed to speak with RealClearInvestigations, since they are no longer in legal jeopardy. They recount to RCI's Paul Sperry stories of "scorched earth" and "Gestapo" tactics, humiliation, damaged health and financial ruin.
They include several people who became household names during the two-year probe – George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Jerome Corsi and Roger Stone – as well as lesser-known figures whose lives were also thrown into turmoil. Several were journalists reporting on emails stolen from Hillary Clinton and other Democrats and published by WikiLeaks.
Sperry reports that the disparate targets' descriptions of rough treatment at the hands of Mueller's team echoed one another:
- Almost all decried what they called Mueller’s “scorched-earth” methods, affecting their physical, mental and financial well-being.
- Several said they were humiliated by being arrested and shackled in public
- Many said that to squeeze them, Mueller’s team threatened to charge them under obscure, almost never enforced laws – especially the Foreign Agent Registration Act and the Logan Act .
- Witnesses said Mueller’s office not only seized their emails and text messages, but also obtained call records from their service providers, as well as their travel records, including flight and hotel information.
- Most said they were forced to retain high-priced Washington lawyers to protect them from falling into "perjury traps," which became the Special Counsel’s tactic of last resort. In the end, Mueller convicted four Trump associates for the process crime of lying, and investigated an additional five individuals for allegedly making false statements.
The Trump Investigations: Top Articles
Top 28 Moments From Barr Interview on CBS, Federalist
Mueller Report Tied Him to Russia, but He Was U.S. Intel Asset, The Hill
Why Was Info Driving Mueller's Probe All Linked to Hillary? Federalist
How Did Russiagate Begin? Consider Calling It 'Intelgate', Nation
Steele to Face U.S. Grilling on Dossier, Times of London
Other Noteworthy Articles and Series
Noncitizen Voting: What We Have Here Is a Failure of Data
Is the notorious inefficiency of government a significant roadblock to preserving the integrity of American elections? That’s the question Mark Hemingway posed in an article for RealClearInvestigations about a failed effort to investigate potential voter fraud in Texas.
His story began on January 25 when Republican Texas Secretary of State David Whitley sent out a press release saying his office had identified some 98,000 noncitizens who might be registered to vote, 58,000 of whom had voted in Texas elections. In this partisan era – when Democrats cast GOP concerns about voter fraud as an effort to suppress minority turnout – the claim was incendiary.
But, Hemingway reports, there were problems with Whitley’s claim. His office had arrived at those numbers by comparing the lists of green card and visa holders who had obtained drivers licenses with lists of registered voters. The lists, however, were mismatched and out-of-date. Over time, at least 25,000 driver license holders had become citizens. Many of those individuals were outraged when they received letters questioning their right to vote.
Bad data has also plagued voter fraud in other states, including Florida and Pennsylvania.
Following months of controversy Whitley resigned his office on May 28 – to the delight of Democrats and even the relief of many GOP colleagues. As a result, nobody now appears to be investigating the extent of voting in Texas by noncitizens.
Biden's Climate Plan Apparently Plagiarized Several Times
Most people are creatures of habit, so much so that they often keep doing things they shouldn’t. That appears to be the case with Joe Biden and plagiarism. You’d think that after his 1988 campaign was blown up by revelations that he’d cribbed large chunks of his speeches – including biographical information – from others, he’d make extra sure that every word issued under his name was his own. Nope. This article reports that the former Vice President and current Democratic frontrunner’s climate plan "appears to have used nearly identical language from other sources in at least five different passages.” Biden’s camp described the borrowings as “inadvertent.” Politico reports that Biden isn’t the only Democratic plagiarist.
TSA Allowing Illegal Migrants to Fly Without Proper Docs
Late next year, Americans will not be able to board a plane with their standard driver’s license. That’s why many have been waiting on often long lines to get the new Real ID. It’s a pain, but hey, anything for safety, right? So it may (or may not) come as a shock that the Transportation Security Administration has been allowing one group of people to board planes without any ID – border-crossing migrants. For the past six months it has been violating its own policy by allowing migrants who have been released from federal custody onto flights despite not having required documents. The reason, this story reports, is that if TSA chose to turn away people at airports it would apply more pressure to overwhelmed bus companies like Greyhound and local motels in border towns, complicating an already dire situation for localities struggling to care for this demographic.
Elaine Chao Family: Business Bridge to China in Trump Cabinet
New York Times
It’s not clear if this long article about Secretary of Transportation Elain Chao raises important questions or is another anti-Trump hit piece. The story centers on the fact that Chao’s family – her parents are American citizens who fled mainland China – owns a shipping company that does business with the Chinese. The article does not accuse the Chaos of any wrongdoing and notes that the Secretary has no formal affiliation or stake in her family’s shipping business, Foremost Group. It does suggest, without evidence, that the fact her family’s company has ships registered in Liberia and Hong Kong may explain why she her department has moved to curtail a program favoring American-flagged shipping and plans to buy new ships that would train Americans as crew members.
Puerto Rico Contractor Pocketed Millions in Taxpayer Cash
From Haiti, to Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and all around the world, disaster aid is often a financial disaster that barely gets a whimper, much less a bang, for the buck. The latest example appears to involve owners of the Textile Corporation of America. They secured millions of dollars in contracts and grants by promising the government that they could deliver 1,000 new jobs to residents of Pikeville, Tennessee, and millions of dollars of supplies to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. But two years later, the company is the subject of a federal criminal investigation alleging that its executives bilked taxpayers out of those millions.
Minnesota: How an Internet Mob Smeared a Chipotle Worker as Racist
Just about every week we see the same story. Someone takes a jittery smartphone video of a white person caught in the act of doing something that's labeled racist. An army of online commentators mobilizes. The video goes viral. And the person in the video is publicly shamed, often losing a job or being ostracized by the community. His or her name becomes a hashtag for hate. This article focuses on a worker at a Chipotle in St. Paul, Minnesota, who was falsely accused of racism in a video that went viral showing her denying service to a group of young black men. They had previously stolen food, vamoosing after their credit card was declined.
On YouTube’s E-Playground, Open Gate for Pedophiles
New York Times
Christiane C. didn’t think anything of it when her 10-year-old daughter and a friend uploaded an innocent video of themselves playing in a backyard pool. A few days later, her daughter shared exciting news: The video had thousands of views. Before long, it had ticked up to 400,000. Turned out YouTube’s automated recommendation system — which drives most of the platform’s billions of views by suggesting what users should watch next — had begun showing the video to users who watched other videos of prepubescent, partly clothed children, a team of researchers has found. This is a common problem.
The Historian Who Invented 22 Holocaust Victims
Since 2013, a German-born, Ph.D. historian at Dublin's Trinity College named Marie Sophie Hingst has been writing about the Holocaust in her award-winning blog "Read On My Dear, Read On." It was here where she regularly shared stories about her allegedly Jewish grandmother. Her family history was a fabrication; she’s not Jewish. So too were most of the names of 22 alleged Holocaust victims she reported to the archives of the Israeli Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem. This article describes her actions a “the bizarre story of a con artist who doesn't even appear to have had anything to gain with her fabrications -- at least materially. She did, of course, make herself sound more interesting as the alleged descendant of victims of the Holocaust -- at least more so than other, non-Jewish Germans. It also had a positive side-effect, at least for a German: It allowed her to be viewed as being on the side of the victims rather than on the side of the perpetrators. "