RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week

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RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week
Jan. 12 to Jan. 18, 2020



Featured Investigation:
Foiled in U.S. Courts, Anti-Trump Lawyer
Became a Zelig of the Trump Probes

Having failed repeatedly in U.S. lawsuits against Paul Manafort and his dealings in Ukraine, an avowedly anti-Trump lawyer fed his same material to Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the FBI and helped put the ex-Trump campaign manager behind bars, Eric Felten reports for RealClearInvestigations.

Felten writes that in the long investigative cloud trailing Donald Trump’s presidency, Kenneth McCallion may be one of the most influential people you've never heard of:

  • McCallion’s New York lawsuits on behalf of Ukrainian politicians against Manafort and company were thrown out repeatedly by Judge Kimba Wood.
  • But McCallion had better luck taking his material to Robert Mueller’s team running the exhaustive Trump-Russia investigation.
  • The special counsel never uncovered a conspiracy with Russia, but McCallion’s info did help put the squeeze on Manafort: He was convicted in part on the conduct described by McCallion, including bank fraud and hiding money abroad.
  • Manafort associate Rick Gates – another McCallion target – was sentenced last month to 45 days in jail.
  • When the FBI began investigating Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman – the indicted pair who worked with Rudy Giuliani on his Ukraine inquiries – one of the first people agents interviewed was McCallion.
  • McCallion takes credit for giving material to the media, but denies being a source for opposition researcher Glenn Simpson and his outfit Fusion GPS.
  • Still, Fusion GPS’s first anti-Trump client, the Washington Free Beacon, published an article in April 2016 based on one of McCallion’s lawsuits.
  • McCallion helps explain how Ukraine’s bitter and byzantine politics came to be America’s politics – including the impeachment of President Trump.

Read Full Article


The Trump Investigations: Top Articles

GAO Today: Trump's OMB Flouted Congress on Spending Law, New York Times
GAO 2014: Obama's Pentagon Flouted Congress on Spending Law, GAO
7 Times GAO Found Obama Administration Violated Federal Law, Breitbart
Key Player in Ukrainegate: Trump Was Fully Aware, New York Times
Trump Donor Allegedly Stalked U.S. Envoy in Ukraine, Daily Beast
Official Picked to Help Fix FISA Defended Spying on Carter Page, Daily Caller
Intel IG Is Link Between FISA Scandal, Impeachment, American Greatness
Justice Dept. Leak Probe Appears Focused on Comey, New York Times
Top Dem Presses DoJ to Stiff-Arm GOP Probe Into Chalupa, Daily Beast
Flynn Moves to Withdraw Guilty Plea, Fox News
More Classified Clinton Emails; Texting Used for Gov't Work, Judicial Watch

Other Noteworthy Articles and Series

Court Secrecy Hobbles Regulators Meant to Protect Public
A thick blanket of secrecy covers product-liability litigation in the United States. In just a handful of cases over the past several decades, hundreds of thousands of people were killed or injured by defective products – cars, drugs, guns – while information about the risks was hidden from consumers and regulators, sometimes for years, behind broad protective orders. These orders, meant to protect specific information such as medical records and trade secrets, often give companies wide latitude to designate as confidential material exchanged between litigants in the pretrial discovery process – internal emails, data, research, meeting minutes, sworn depositions and the like. The secrecy typically persists for the life of the case, and long after, though court documents are, by law, presumed to be public. In an analysis of some of the largest mass defective-product cases consolidated in federal courts over the past 20 years, Reuters found 55 in which judges sealed information concerning public health and safety. 

'Organic' Missourian One of Biggest Frauds in Farm History
Kansas City Star
Church-going family man. School board president. Agribusiness entrepreneur. That’s the caring, accomplished Randy Constant people knew in Chillicothe, Missouri, which advertises itself on road signs as the “Home of Sliced Bread.” Constant got rich buying and selling organic grain. In 2016, he sold 7 percent of all the corn labeled organic and 8 percent of all the soybeans carrying that designation. That is, until a line of black SUVs showed up outside his Cape Cod-style home with a search warrant. Turns out some of that grain wasn’t organic and Constant was passing off cheaper conventionally grown grain for the more expensive organic kind. With the FBI’s assistance, the Agriculture Department would go on to prove that Constant was a swindler on a grand scale: More than $140 million in fraudulent sales between 2010 and 2017 for grain with a likely value of half that. 

Kentucky: Empty Promises of Broadband and Jobs
ProPublica/Louisville Courier-Journal
Progress – which is good but expensive - continues to threaten rural America. This article focuses on KentuckyWired, the much-heralded plan to improve internet connectivity across the Bluegrass state. It promised to create financial opportunities through reliable, high-speed internet for rural communities hammered by job losses in the coal and tobacco industries. State leaders said it would help bring high-tech jobs and provide residents better opportunities to start their own businesses given the lack of companies investing in such areas. But, this article reports, the project has yet to deliver, and it’s unclear if and when it will. In another rural investigation, a separate article from New Statesman America reports that indigenous people in Alaska are more likely to die from suicide than other Americans because it is hard to get life-saving health care to them in their remote villages.

Incest, Rape, Abuse: Dark Secrets of the Amish
Type Investigations/Cosmopolitan
Sexual abuse spanning generations is an open secret in Amish communities, according to this investigation which draws on often graphic interviews with nearly three dozen Amish people, in addition to law enforcement officials, judges, attorneys, outreach workers, and scholars. The reporter says she identified 52 official cases of Amish child sexual assault in seven states over the past two decades as well as other accounts which included inappropriate touching, groping, fondling, exposure to genitals, digital penetration, coerced oral sex, anal sex, and rape. But “this number doesn’t begin to capture the full picture” because most interviewees told her “they were dissuaded by their family or church leaders from reporting their abuse to police or had been conditioned not to seek outside help. … Some victims said they were intimidated and threatened with excommunication.” This is, of course, horrific. But the story lacks an important piece of context: It suggests that sexual abuse is more prevalent in Amish communities than in American society at large without directly addressing that issue. 

New Hampshire: Dozens Allege Abuse at Youth Detention Center
Associated Press
More than two dozen men and women say they were physically, sexually and emotionally abused as children at New Hampshire’s state-run youth detention center over the course of three decades, according to attorneys who have filed a class-action lawsuit on their behalf. It comes six months after two former counselors were charged with repeatedly raping a teenage boy at the Youth Development Center in Manchester, New Hampshire, in the late 1990s. 

The Trouble With Crime Stats on Pot or Anything Else
New Yorker
Does legalizing pot lead to more crime or less? This article – which should be required reading for all journalists - reports that the answer “may be unknowable” as it details the many challenges in measuring the precise impact of laws, policies, and behaviors on crime rates. Drug use, for example, “might be a risk factor for committing crime – a behavior that’s correlated with it, and so helps predict it. And yet drugs themselves might not cause crime; drug use and crime might both have other causes (unemployment, say, or under-policing). The connection could also be random. Criminologists sometimes describe crime as a ‘chaotic system,’ and countless factors contribute to it. The passage of time makes it especially difficult to sort correlation from causation.” Reporter Matthew Hutson continues: “Statisticians are always on the lookout for a phenomenon they call ‘regression toward the mean.’ If crime randomly goes up, it may soon return to average levels on its own; the increase and subsequent reduction might be a statistical hiccup. And yet a fortuitously timed intervention – a new law, say, passed in the wake of the random increase – may appear, incorrectly, to be what brought crime under control.”

Victim Casts Glare on French Elite Tolerance of Sex With Kids
New York Times
The French writer Gabriel Matzneff never hid the fact that he engaged in sex with girls and boys who were in their early teens or even younger. Now 83, he wrote countless books detailing his insatiable pursuits and appeared on television boasting about them. “Under 16 Years Old” was the title of an early book that left no ambiguity. Still, he never spent a day in jail for his actions or suffered any repercussion. Instead, he won acclaim again and again. But the publication of an account by one of his victims, Vanessa Springora, has suddenly fueled an intense debate in France over its historically lax attitude toward sex with children. It has also shone a particularly harsh light on a period during which some of France’s leading literary figures and newspapers – names as big as Foucault, Sartre, Libération and Le Monde – aggressively promoted the practice as a form of human liberation, or at least defended it.

Secretive Company Selling Cops Cameras Hidden in Gravestones
A surveillance vendor that works with U.S. government agencies, such as the FBI, DEA, and ICE, is marketing spying capabilities to local police departments, including cameras that are hidden inside a tombstone, a baby car seat, and a vacuum cleaner. The brochure highlights some of the capabilities on offer to law enforcement agencies, from the novel to the sometimes straight-up bizarre. Special Services Group, the vendor, would not comment for the article, so the article focuses on the types of items being offered rather than on who is buying the items and how they are being used. But it does highlight the fact that surveillance equipment is getting cheaper, smaller and better” which means it is almost certainly in wider use. 

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