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RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week

RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week
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RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week
Sept. 19 to Sept. 25, 2021

Featured Investigation:
Biden Security Adviser Jake Sullivan
Tied to Alleged 2016 Clinton Scheme
to Co-Opt the CIA and FBI to Tar Trump

Biden National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan figures prominently in a grand jury investigation run by Special Counsel John Durham into an alleged 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign effort to use U.S. intelligence agencies to tar Donald Trump as a colluder with Russia, Paul Sperry reports for RealClearInvestigations.

Sperry reports:

  • Sullivan faces legal jeopardy, sources say, over potentially false statements he made about his involvement in the effort.
  • As a senior foreign policy adviser to Clinton, Sullivan spearheaded what was known inside her campaign as a “confidential project” to link her opponent in the presidential race to the Kremlin through dubious email-server records provided to both the CIA and the FBI, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
  • Both before the 2016 election and again after Trump was sworn into office, Sullivan is said to have taken the lead in promoting the alleged Russian connection, which was later debunked as a baseless smear.
  • Last week, Durham charged Michael Sussmann, a Clinton campaign lawyer who coordinated with Sullivan, with lying to the FBI about his clients and their motives behind planting the rumor, at the highest levels of the FBI, of a secret server linking Trump operations to Russia’s Alfa Bank.
  • FBI veterans say Durham used the lengthy Sussmann indictment covering a single count to outline a broader conspiracy case that invokes several other federal statutes.
  • The Clinton campaign project, these sources say, also involved compiling a "digital dossier” on several Trump campaign officials – including Gen. Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos and Carter Page. This exploited highly sensitive, nonpublic Internet data.

Featured Investigation:
How Russiagate Became a Story
of Old Friends in High Places

With the indictment of a top Democrat lawyer last week, Russiagate is emerging ever more clearly as a classic illustration of the way entrenched Washington works, Eric Felten reports for RealClearinvestigations: It runs on friends in high places -- in this case coming together to spread spurious allegations against Donald Trump and other interlopers from Trumpworld.

Felten reports:

  • Michael A. Sussmann, the Hillary Cljnton lawyer indicted last week for lying in prosecutor John Durham’s investigation, was able to gain a private sitdown with FBI counsel James Baker because, as Baker told congressional investigators, Sussmann came to him “based on a preexisting relationship."
  • In the fall of 2016, another Washingtonian with the general counsel’s ear was David Corn of Mother Jones, who came bearing Trump-Russia dirt from the Steele dossier. They were old friends. “Years and years and years ago,” Baker told congressional investigators. “Our kids carpooled together. We carpooled with them when our kids were little.”
  • Similarly, British dossier compiler and anti-Trump partisan Christopher Steele went way back with Justice Department official Bruce Ohr -- a friendship that developed to the point that Ohr connected Steele with the FBI and “pushed” for the Bureau to make his friend a paid FBI informant, a “Confidential Human Source.”
  • Ohr wasn’t the only official Steele cultivated. He had also become pals with Jonathan Winer, a top State Department officer who promoted “Chris” Steele -- a “trusted friend of mine” -- and pushed his dossier with vigor and enthusiasm among his friends at State.

Featured Investigation:
Little Outcry Over Antifa's
Equal-Opportunity Beatdowns

of Journalists on Left and Right

Antifa enforcers appear to be equal-opportunity assaulters of reporters, attacking independent journalists from both the left and the right at protests -- and major news organizations and press advocacy groups are notably quiet about the violence, Mark Hemingway reports for RealClearInvestigations.

Highlights of his report:

  • The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documented an alarming rise in attacks on journalists during 2020, a year marked by nationwide George Floyd unrest -- 400 last year, out of 517 since 2017.
  • The few journalists willing to cover antifa typically do so on social media and have found themselves frequent targets of violence by the loosely organized movement, which denounces free speech.
  • Maranie Staab, a social justice-focused freelance photographer, had her phone smashed, was thrown to the pavement and maced after refusing demands by antifa members to stop filming their activities.
  • Andy Ngo, a conservative freelance reporter, has sustained four physical attacks from antifa, one of which left him with a brain hemorrhage. These attacks and death threats forced him to move out of his hometown of Portland.
  • Nancy Rommelmann, a self-described liberal journalist, has been attacked in the streets and threatened online in response to her reporting on antifa.
  • While major media downplayed left-wing protest violence at hundreds of Black Lives Matter protests, progressive outlets have denigrated “right-wing” journalists trying to cover the unrest.
  • Rommelmann believes traditional media are ignoring antifa’s violence to avoid discrediting liberal causes.

Featured Investigation:
There Are Far More Defensive Gun Uses
Than Murders in America.
Here's Why You Rarely Hear of Them.

Because police, public officials and the media don’t adequately tally defensive gun uses, many Americans don’t know that firearms, blamed for taking many innocent lives every year, also save untold numbers of people, John R. Lott Jr. reports for RealClearInvestigations.

Lott reports:

  • According to academic estimates, defensive gun uses -- including when guns are simply shown to deter a crime -- are four to five times more common than gun crimes, and far more frequent than the roughly 20,000 murders or fewer each year with or without a gun.
  • The Department of Justice tallies 100,000 defensive gun uses a year - which may sound like a lot, but even this is a lowball figure because the DoJ survey counts only defensive gun uses by people who identify themselves as crime victims.
  • Other surveys include those who do not self-characterize as victims and find an average of about 2 million defensive gun uses a year.
  • Public perceptions are warped by a distorting media feedback loop. Many leading outfits rely on the Gun Violence Archive to track firearm use. The GVA, however, relies primarily on news reports. Through this unvirtuous circle, the public learns of the most extreme cases, which academic research suggests is actually a fraction of gun uses.
  • America’s five largest newspapers through Aug. 10 published a combined total of 10 news stories this year reporting a civilian using a gun to stop a crime.
  • By contrast, if it bleeds, it often leads: Those same newspapers had a total of 1,743 news stories referring to  murder and gunfire. Including articles with the word “wounded,” the total rises to 2,764.

Biden, Trump and the Beltway

With Clinton Lawyer Charged, the Russiagate Scam Is Now Indicted
The indictment of Hillary Clinton attorney Michael Sussmann offers new evidence that the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory that engulfed Trump's term in office was the product of fabrications involving Clinton's 2016 campaign. Aaron Maté, who has covered Russiagate extensively for RealClearInvestigations, reports in his Substack on the major findings from the Sussman indictment, which he notes “offers an expansive window into how the Russiagate scam began, and how Democratic operatives, intelligence officials, and establishment media figures dishonestly fed it to the public.” Perhaps even more significant is what the indictment may foreshadow:

With the Steele dossier now widely discredited and Sussmann’s indictment adding new details of a related deceptionthe Clinton campaign is now connected to yet one more documented scam in a sprawling effort to plant Trump-Russia conspiracy theories in the media and trigger federal investigative activity. ...

Sussmann’s role in the Alfa Bank fabrication raises new questions about the allegation at the heart of the Trump-Russia scandal: the claim that Russia stole emails from the Democratic Party and gave them to Wikileaks in a covert operation to help Trump’s campaign.

This allegation was generated by a different private firm, Crowdstrike, which, like Fusion GPS, was also hired by Perkins Coie — specifically, by Michael Sussmann.

In a related Substack, Glenn Greenwald reports on the media’s complicity in Russiagate, arguing that the Sussmann indictment exposes the malpractice of a number of journalists -- serving as an effective indictment of them too. As Greenwald summarizes it:

The FBI went on a wild goose chase to investigate Sussman's conspiracy theory. But the Bureau quickly concluded that there was no evidentiary basis to believe any of it ... This fraud — one of so many that formed the Russiagate scandal — played a significant role in shaping media coverage of the 2016 election. Spurred on by Hillary Clinton herself, the liberal sector of the corporate media used this fake claim to bolster their narrative that Trump and the Russians were secretly in cahoots. And the story of how they spread this disinformation involves not just the potential criminality outlined in this indictment of Hillary's lawyer but, even more seriously, a rotted and deeply corrupted media.

Emails: $2 Million a Year for Biden Son to Unfreeze Libyan Cash
Business Insider
President Joe Biden’s son Hunter has been implicated in a number of business deals smacking of potential influence-peddling, and often involving foreign powers. This article reports on the newest such revelations, with two unpublished emails sent by business contacts of Hunter Biden in 2015-2016 indicating that Hunter requested an annual retainer of $2 million to help recover billions in Libyan assets frozen by the Obama administration.

The emails, obtained by Insider during reporting on an unrelated matter, are not connected to the controversial emails from Hunter Biden's laptop, which his supporters have claimed were distributed as part of a disinformation campaign. And while it appears from the new emails that the Libya deal was never consummated, the documents offer a window into the mechanics of Beltway influence peddling, and the stock that was put in Biden's political connections — particularly his relationship with his father, who was vice president at the time.

About those other Hunter Biden emails that President Biden and his conduits dismissed as disinformation: Politico Playbook reports on author Ben Schrekinger’s new book on the Biden family, “The Bidens: Inside the First Family’s Fifty-Year Rise to Power,” in which he finds further evidence that some of the purported Hunter Biden laptop material is genuine, including two emails at the center of last October’s controversy. One is a 2015 email from a Ukrainian businessman thanking him for the chance to meet Joe Biden. The other is a 2017 email in which a proposed equity breakdown of a venture with Chinese energy executives includes the line, “10 held by H for the big guy [presumably Joe Biden]?”

Politico’s report was notable given it had received and reported on a letter from numerous senior intelligence officials in October 2020 indicating that the disclosure of Hunter Biden’s purported emails from his laptop constituted Russian disinformation. That report served as the linchpin of the effort by traditional and social media to bury the New York Post’s reporting on Biden’s laptop on the eve of the 2020 election. Glenn Greenwald reports on that saga, and what he suggests is the unraveling of the hugely significant disinformation effort at its heart -- the one to cast Hunter Biden’s laptop contents as disinformation. He writes:

A severe escalation of the war on a free internet and free discourse has taken place over the last twelve months. Numerous examples of brute and dangerous censorship have emerged: the destruction by Big Tech monopolies of Parler at the behest of Democratic politicians at the time that it was the most-downloaded app in the country; the banning of the sitting president from social media; and the increasingly explicit threats from elected officials in the majority party of legal and regulatory reprisals in the event that tech platforms do not censor more in accordance with their demands.

But the most severe episode of all was the joint campaign — in the weeks before the 2020 election — by the CIA, Big Tech, the liberal wing of the corporate media and the Democratic Party to censor and suppress a series of major reports about then-presidential frontrunner Joe Biden.

Pelosi's Husband Up $700K on CrowdStrike Stock Buy 
Fox News
Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s family has enjoyed wild success investing in financial markets during her time in office, particularly in the tech sector core to her district. This article reports on her family’s latest such triumph, a position taken by her husband Paul up $700,000 over the last year in cybersecurity company CrowdStrike. CrowdStrike ties in significantly to this week’s news of the indictment of a Hillary Cinton lawyer by Special Counsel John Durham. It was the firm hired by the Democratic National Committee in 2016 to investigate the hack of its servers, purportedly by Russians, and purportedly for the Trump campaign’s benefit, which formed part of the basis of the Trump-Russia narrative.

Meanwhile, another report suggests a number of Speaker Pelosi’s colleagues may also have been enjoying stock market success. The article reports:

The Campaign Legal Center (CLC) announced on Wednesday that it filed complaints with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) against Reps. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), Lance Gooden (R-Texas), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), Roger Williams (R-Texas) and Del. Michael San Nicolas (D-Guam), accusing them of failing to disclose stock trades in compliance with the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act.

The watchdog is requesting that the OCE conduct an investigation into the members of Congress for allegedly failing to disclose more than $12 million collectively.

Reps. Davidson and Axne’s offices indicated they had submitted required disclosures. Congressman Suozzi’s office indicated that periodic transaction reports were not filed, but every transaction was reported on his annual financial disclosure. 

Other Biden, Trump and Beltway Investigations

Trump Team Knew Voting Machine Claims Baseless: Memo NY Times
Media's 'Justice for J6' Rally a Dud Washington Examiner
Trump's $100M Suit Over NYT Tax Story Daily Beast
PPP Loans Became Freebies for Ineligible Big Firms ProPublica
New Evidence of Corruption at EPA Chemicals Division The Intercept
Porn Industry Turns to K Street to Fight Internet Regs Politico 

Other Noteworthy Articles and Series

Inside CVS’s Racial Re-Education Program
City Journal
Last year, CVS Health Corporation—the largest pharmacy chain in the United States—paid then-CEO Larry Merlo almost 618 times the median company wage, while simultaneously launching a mandatory “antiracist” training program for hourly employees to deconstruct their “privilege.” In the latest in a running series of pieces documenting the efforts of major corporations to expose their employees to woke orthodoxy, Christopher F. Rufo reports:

I have received whistleblower documents from inside CVS that reveal the company’s extensive race-reeducation program, which is built on the core tenets of critical race theory, including “intersectionality,” “white privilege,” and “unconscious bias.”

Rufo describes a low-tolerance attitude at CVS toward dissent:

CVS has shown no signs of backing down. Merlo retired at the beginning of this year, cashing out on a long career at the pharmacy. Meantime, executives continue to push the “antiracism” and “privilege” initiatives, hectoring employees to make a “personal commitment” constantly to “celebrate diversity, inclusion, and equity.” Any dissenters will pay the price. CVS promises “swift action against non-inclusive behaviors”—even if that inclusivity stops at the payroll department.

Congress may be stepping in in a bid to defend such dissenters. This article reports on Sen. Marco Rubio’s “Mind Your Own Business Act,” suggesting that the bill would empower shareholders to protect themselves from woke CEOs by eliminating barriers preventing them from suing companies for prioritizing politics over profits.

Woke ideology manifests itself in policies like racial preferences. The victims of racial preference regimes are often hard to identify, since people are not usually told they are passed up for a job or rejected from college based on implicit or explicit diversity quotas. In this article, Heather Mac Donald reports that a British classical music organization inadvertently ripped the veil off the diversity arithmetic when it told nearly half of its orchestral musicians that it would not be renewing their contracts for the 2022 season because it has “prioritised increased diversity in the orchestra.” Here, at last, Mac Donald writes, “were concrete, publicly identified victims of a preference regime.” The reaction to their plight has been swift, and strong enough to elicit backpedaling from its main patron.

Your Car Knows Too Much About You
Is the car sitting in your driveway really just a car, or a sophisticated piece of spy hardware? This article reports that technological advancements have turned cars into data-gathering machines. Which information is collected, and where it ends up, is not always clear to car owners. If your car knows where you go, and how long you stay there, it, like your cellphone, also hypothetically knows whether you're a churchgoer, attend AA, or made a recent trip Planned Parenthood. And, depending on what features you've enabled, it may not keep that information to itself. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

The Elegant Science of Turning Cadavers to Compost 
Harper’s Magazine
Amigo Bob Cantisano didn’t think he was going to die. But his wife, Jenifer Bliss, who had cared for him through eight years of throat cancer, could see that his condition had taken a turn for the worse. This article reports that the farmer-environmentalist and his wife made a novel decision for when he shuffled off his mortal coil, after Washington State legalized converting human remains into soil: The day after Christmas, the deceased Amigo Bob joined nine other pioneers at the world’s first natural organic reduction facility, dubbed the Greenhouse, becoming the first humans in the world to be legally composted. This article describes that process.

Coronavirus Investigations

Leaked 2018 U.S. Grant Bid for High-Risk Virus Work The Intercept
Some Vaccines Last a Lifetime. Why Covid Shots Don’t. Wall Street Journal

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