RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week

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RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week 
Sept. 8 to Sept. 14, 2019 

Featured Investigations
Trump-Russia and Clinton Libya:
A Story of Two Probes and the FBI
 

The FBI got records of two private, unverified investigations involving presidential candidates in mid-2016. But it appears to have pursued only one seriously: the Steele dossier. The Clinton-Libya file, on the other hand, you've never heard ofuntil now. Mark Hemingway reports the details: 

  • Documents quietly posted online by the FBI in June allege longtime Clinton operative Sidney Blumenthal tried to exploit his relationship with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make millions repatriating $66 billion stolen from Libya by Moammar Gadhafi. 
  • There is little indication the FBI investigated the allegations, which it received from sources connected to Republicans. 
  • The FBI received the documents in mid-2016, around the same time it launched an exhaustive investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, which relied on private sources connected to Democrats. 
  • One FBI agent played an especially pivotal role in dealing with both matters: Peter Strzok, who would eventually be fired by the bureau because of his anti-Trump bias.  
  • Later, Blumenthal worked with Cody Shearer, another Clinton operative, to circulate the Steele dossier’s anti-Trump claims. 

The Trump Investigations: Top Articles 

Trump Loose Lips Tied to 2017 Removal of Top Spy From Russia, CNN 
'No Public Evidence' Trump Imperiled CIA Spy Who Left Russia, NY Times 
About That Sketchy Russian Spy Exfiltration Story, Conservative Treehouse 
Hiding in Plain Sight, Can Ex-CIA Spy Survive Putin’s Assassins?, Daily Beast 
Late Obama State Dept. Efforts to Spread Trump-Russia Intel, Judicial Watch 
Feds Back Criminal Prosecution for Ex-FBI No. 2 McCabe, USA Today 
Lawsuit: Mueller Helped Saudis Cover Up Role in 9/11, New York Post 
Flynn Lawyer's Strategy to Expose Breadth of Spygate, Federalist

 

Other Noteworthy Articles and Series 

Cables Detail CIA Torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 
The Intercept 
The CIA’s use of questionable interrogation techniques has been well documented. But recently declassified cables reveal in new detail interrogators’ attempts to transform detainees into collaborators in the war against Al Qaeda. They display in cold bureaucratic prose the thinking behind tactics many consider torture, including waterboarding and sleep deprivation. And they exhibit a committed belief that enhanced measures always move detainees closer to an imagined breaking point that, once met, force them to produce more accurate information — a belief that a 2014 Senate torture report disputed. 

Justify Failed a Drug Test Before Winning the Triple Crown 
New York Times 
Justify may be the Lance Armstrong of thoroughbreds. The horse that electrified the sport in 2018 by becoming just the 13th winner of the Triple Crown, failed a drug test just weeks before the Kentucky Derby. That meant Justify should not have run in the Derby, if the sport’s rules were followed. They were not, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times. Instead of the failed drug test causing a speedy disqualification, the California Horse Racing Board took more than a month to confirm the results. Then, instead of filing a public complaint as it usually does, the board made a series of decisions behind closed doors as it moved to drop the case and lighten the penalty for any horse found to have the banned substance that Justify tested positive for in its system. 

Some Women Seek Abortions Out of State Amid Restrictions 
Associated Press 
At least 276,000 women went to another state to end a pregnancy between 2012 and 2017, some evidently in response to the home state's abortion restrictions. In New Mexico, for example, the number of women from out of state who had abortions more than doubled in that period, while Missouri women represented nearly half the abortions performed in neighboring Kansas. Still, the data are murky. Georgia’s share of abortions involving women from out-of-state rose from 11.5% to 15% during that period while North Carolina saw its share increase from 16.6% to 18.5% - even though both states have passed restrictive laws. In addition, the share of women who had abortions out of state rose slightly, by half a percentage point. 

When Medicaid Takes Everything You’ve Left Your Heirs 
The Atlantic 
Medicaid, the government program that provides health care to more than 75 million low-income and disabled Americans, isn’t necessarily free. It’s the only major welfare program that can function like a loan. If they have the resources, Medicaid recipients over the age of 55 are expected to repay the government, and to satisfy the debt states will seize houses and other assets after those recipients die. This story focuses on a family whose mother’s estate owed almost $200,000 – a sum that would require her survivors to sell the family home. Opponents of so-called estate recovery say the harm of destabilizing low-income families does not justify the meager returns. “It’s a drop in the bucket given the amount of misery they cause people,” says one. 

Hate-Crime Spike in New York Has Nothing to Do With White Supremacy 
National Review 
Mayor Bill de Blasio has attributed the spike in anti-Semitic attacks in New York City to white supremacists emboldened by Donald Trump. This article challenges that assertion. It reports that none of the suspects in any of New York City's reported anti-Jewish crimes had any previous arrests for hate crimes or any background in hate-related activities. In addition, many of the attacks were perpetrated by people of color. In 2017 and 2018, 37 blacks and 46 whites were arrested for anti-Jewish hate crimes, the majority of which were for property vandalism and harassment — statistics consistent with national data. 

New Sources Come Forward in NY Times Reporters' Book on Weinstein 
New York Times 
Two years before the allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against Harvey Weinstein became public, his own brother and business partner, Bob Weinstein, confronted him, pleading with him to get medical treatment for what he described as many years of “misbehavior.” “You have brought shame to the family and your company through your misbehavior,” Bob Weinstein wrote. The previously unreported letter is reprinted in full in “She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement,” a new book by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey of the New York Times. It uncovers more of the extent of Weinstein’s alleged transgressions, and the labyrinth of secret settlements and restrictive nondisclosure agreements that allowed Mr. Weinstein and other men in positions of power to conceal their behavior and thrive in their careers and find new victims. 

Blasey Ford's Dad Backed Kavanaugh 
The Federalist 
When Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate on alleged sexual misconduct by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, some observers found it uprising that her parents, who lived in the D.C. area, did not attend the hearing to support her. This article reports that the Blasey family had significant doubts about what she was up to. Within days of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, the father of the new justice was approached by Ford’s father at the golf club where they are both members. “I’m glad Brett was confirmed,” Ralph Blasey told Ed Kavanaugh, shaking his hand. Blasey added that the ordeal had been tough for both families. 

How John Roberts Killed the Census Citizenship Question 
CNN 
Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding vote against President Trump's attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, but only after changing his position behind the scenes, sources familiar with the private Supreme Court deliberations tell CNN. Roberts' action recalled his dramatic switch in the 2012 case that saved President Obama's Affordable Care Act. Once again, the chief, an appointee of President George W. Bush and usually a conservative, had sided with the liberals as a dispute of immense national significance went down to the wire. 

Did the Heir to the Red Bull Empire Get Away With Murder? 
Walrus 
In the early morning of Sept. 3, 2012, a Bangkok playboy roared his Ferrari down Sukhumvit Road, slamming into a motorcycle cop, dragging the officer, along with his tangled bike, down the block to his death. The playboy, Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, scion of a founder of Red Bull energy drinks, immediately fled the scene. Locals like to say that Thai jails are only for the poor. Boss seems to be living proof. Seven years later, the prosecution has been indefinitely delayed even as the statute of limitations is expiring on potential charges. The times when Boss has been called into court, he hasn’t shown up. In fact, within weeks of the incident, Boss was back to enjoying his family’s jet-set lifestyle. He flew around the world on private Red Bull jets, cheered the company’s Formula One racing team from Red Bull’s VIP seats, and kept a shiny black Porsche Carrera in London with custom license plates—B055 RBR, or Boss Red Bull racing. 

The Last of the Dunk Tank Clowns 
New York Times 
David Simmons is a dunk-tank clown. He makes a living by shouting insults at passers-by at America’s small-town fairgrounds: the weight of a man’s date, or the cheap finish of a woman’s fake gold hoop earrings. He hopes to rile them enough to spend $2 to exact a watery payback. This article reports that dunk tank clowns are fading away in a world where Americans are beginning to believe that cracking jokes about people’s skin color, size, poverty or intelligence is maybe not a good thing. “They’re retiring left and right,” Simmons said. “They’re being run out of town.” Our taste for insults seems to be evaporating. Really?

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