By: Margot Cleveland
January 03, 2023
Image CreditThe White House/Flickr
From deep-state election meddling to silent journalists, here are 10 scandals to track in the upcoming year.
Visit on Twitter @ProfMJCleveland
The new year is upon us and with it a fresh start for more corruption. But 2023 also offers the opportunity to bring closure to some long-running scandals. Here are 10 to track in the upcoming year.
1. Government’s Puppeteering of Big Tech and MediaThe ongoing release of the “Twitter Files” closed 2022 with a new scandal, as the internal communications of the tech giant exposed extensive coordination between the government and Twitter, Facebook, Google, and other big players controlling the flow of information. While conservatives have known — and complained — for years of Big Tech’s censorship and shadowbanning, by purchasing Twitter and giving independent journalists access to corporate emails, Elon Musk provided indisputable confirmation that Twitter both censored and blacklisted conservatives.
The censoring of the Hunter Biden laptop story and the silencing of scientific criticism of the government’s heavy-handed Covid regime, both at the prompting of federal agents, proved the most appalling.
As Musk continues to provide access to internal communications, a watchful eye is warranted in 2023.
2. Intelligence Agencies’ 2020 Election InterferenceA related scandal to track in 2023 concerns intelligence agencies’ interference in the 2020 election. Even before Musk took over at Twitter, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed the FBI’s role in prompting the censorship of the Hunter Biden story.
As I previously reported, during an August 2020 interview with Joe Rogan, Zuckerberg revealed that before the Hunter Biden laptop story dropped, the FBI had warned the Facebook team to “be on high alert.” According to Zuckerberg, the FBI told Facebook, “[W]e thought there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election” and that “we have it on notice that basically there’s about to be some kind of dump similar to that so just be vigilant.” Based on the FBI’s warning, when the New York Post broke the Hunter Biden story, Facebook treated it as potential misinformation and limited the visibility of the scandal.
While Zuckerberg hedged on whether the FBI identified the Hunter Biden story as the one that prompted the warning, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, signed a declaration attesting that during their “regular meetings with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and industry peers regarding election security,” “federal law enforcement agencies communicated that they expected ‘hack-and-leak operations’ by state actors might occur in the period shortly before the 2020 presidential election, likely in October.” Roth noted that during those meetings he learned “that there were rumors that a hack-and-leak operation would involve Hunter Biden,” and that Twitter censored the story based on the warning.
Of course, the Hunter Biden laptop was real and not Russian misinformation as the intelligence community had presented it to both Facebook and Twitter, prompting the tech giants to censor the politically devasting story mere weeks before the 2020 election. The FBI’s interference in the 2020 presidential election is a huge scandal, yet just began to percolate in the press in late 2022.
This scandal will continue in 2023, but even more damning details are likely to drop this year given that the “Twitter Files” revealed FBI Special Agent Elvis Chan sent a “Heads Up” to Roth on the late evening of Oct. 13, 2020 — hours before the Post story hit. Chan’s email alerted the Twitter executive to a “Teleporter link” that would allow Roth to download 10 documents. “It is not spam!” Chan stressed, asking Roth to confirm receipt of the link. Two minutes later, at 6:24 p.m., California time, Roth acknowledged he had received the message and downloaded the files.
Chan sent a similar email to high-level Twitter executives two days after the Post story first ran, with the Oct. 16, 2020 message from Chan telling Roth and a high-level Twitter attorney, “I just got something hot off the presses today,” and then telling the duo to monitor their Teleporter messages for “two documents to download.”
Teleporter, as the “Twitter Files” detailed, is a one-way communication platform that allowed the FBI to send secret messages to the tech behemoth. Those messages, however, reportedly disappear after 24 hours, and to date, both the content of the Teleporter messages and the documents the FBI attached for Twitter’s review remain unknown. But the timing suggests further evidence may exist showing the FBI lied to Big Tech to rig the 2020 election — and 2023 may be the year for it to emerge.
3. The Biden LaundromatSince at least 2020, Hunter Biden has been under investigation by federal prosecutors. Many expected charges to come last year, when in March of 2022, The New York Times — one of the go-to media outlets for Democrats to prime with inside information to blunt the effects of soon-to-be-released negative news — reported based on unnamed sources that David C. Weiss, the U.S. attorney for Delaware overseeing the criminal investigation into Hunter Biden, had a grand jury conducting “a wide-ranging examination” of Hunter “Biden’s international business dealings, with prosecutors considering charges for tax fraud, criminal foreign lobbying, and money laundering.”
If Weiss intends to indict, 2023 will be the year to move because after that the country returns to campaign mode and it seems unlikely the DOJ would drop an indictment of the president’s son during an election year. But whether Weiss indicts or not, the House of Representatives, now under Republican control, will most assuredly investigate the Biden family money-making machine — and there is a lot to investigate, including the financial dealings of Hunter Biden, James Biden, Sara Biden, and all the corporate entities linked to them, and how Joe Biden benefitted from those financial dealings.
Further, beyond Ukraine and Hunter’s dealings there, both Hunter and James Biden (the president’s brother) negotiated deals with the communist Chinese regime, with financial records showing various entities run by President Joe Biden’s family members received wire transfers “from communist-connected Chinese businesses” that “totaled $5,000,000, with the proceeds reaching Hunter and James Biden through a variety of business organizations they controlled.”
Profiteering from communist China represents but one aspect of the duo’s financial dealings. According to The New York Times, Hunter Biden’s joint global equity firm, the Bohai Harvest Equity Investment Fund, helped arrange the purchase by a Chinese mining company of the world’s largest cobalt source in the Congo. “Hunter reportedly launched that new joint enterprise with Chinese business partners less than two weeks after he traveled to China on Air Force Two with his then-vice president father.”
A Senate report also documents Hunter Biden’s receipt of a combined $3.5 million from the wife of the former Moscow mayor, a Kazakhstan investor, and several other individuals. “Closer to home, James Biden’s financial dealings also evidence a complicated pay-to-play scandal underlying his investing in the health care sector” with a business called Americore. James Biden reportedly held out a “promise of a large investment from the Middle East based on his political connections,” before taking “a six-figure personal loan out of Americore’s coffers,” but then the Middle East investment never materialized, and neither did James Biden’s repayment of the loan.
Between federal prosecutors and Republican House oversight committees, 2023 promises to hang out the Biden family’s financial dirty laundry.
4. FBI CorruptionSince SpyGate exploded in 2018 with then-House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes’ release of his memorandum detailing the FBI’s abuse of the FISA court system, evidence of FBI malfeasance has continued to mount. While, to date, the FBI has avoided any real consequences for SpyGate and the burying of the Hunter Biden laptop story, last year saw a slew of agents becoming whistleblowers.
These whistleblowers include some in “senior positions,” who reportedly told Sen. Chuck Grassley’s office that FBI officials “falsely portray[ed] as disinformation evidence acquired from multiple sources that provided the FBI derogatory information related to Hunter Biden’s financial and foreign business activities, even though some of that information had already been or could be verified.”
More whistleblowers also reached out to GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, reporting that FBI officials “allegedly pressured agents to label cases as ‘domestic violent extremism’ to boost case numbers.” And multiple whistleblowers “have disclosed how the FBI leadership is conducting a ‘purge’ of FBI employees holding conservative views,” and is allowing political bias to affect FBI investigations.
The potential for more whistleblowers, coupled with the “Twitter Files” and House oversight committees now in Republican hands, could reveal more fully the FBI’s corruption in 2023.
5. Eugene Yu Versus True the VoteA fifth scandal to watch in 2023 concerns the fight between Eugene Yu and True the Vote.
Last year ended with the L.A. County district attorney’s office dismissing criminal charges against Yu, the founder of the Michigan-based election-management software company Konnech. The L.A. County D.A. had previously announced Yu’s arrest, stating in a press conference on Oct. 4, 2022, that “under its $2.9 million, five-year contract with the county, Konnech was supposed to securely maintain the data and that only United States citizens and permanent residents have access to it.” Yet according to the press release, “District Attorney investigators found that in contradiction to the contract, information was stored on servers in the People’s Republic of China.”
Shortly after Yu’s arrest, the self-proclaimed “nation’s leading voters’ rights and election integrity organization,” True the Vote, announced that it had “played a small role” in the investigation of Konnech and applauded the L.A. County D.A.’s office for its work on the case. True the Vote’s involvement in the case apparently prompted the far-left D.A. to rethink the charges and eventually led to the dismissal of the criminal case, because of its concerns “about both the pace of the investigation and the potential bias in the presentation and investigation of the evidence.”
While LA. County did not rule out refiling charges against Yu, to date, none have been filed. Meanwhile, Yu has pending a civil lawsuit in a federal district court against True the Vote and two of its representatives for defamation and other claims. Yu, for his part, maintains that Konnech has never stored election worker data on Chinese servers. Conversely, True the Vote maintains it provided the FBI with evidence confirming Konnech illegally used foreign servers.
2023 will see these conflicting accounts play out and, more importantly, reveal the FBI’s role in the scandal — because the real import concerns neither Yu nor True the Vote, but the FBI.
Court documents indicate a confidential human source provided the FBI with evidence that Konnech maintained the personal information of election workers on a Chinese server, and it was based on that evidence the L.A. County D.A. office indicted and arrested Yu. But those charges were later dismissed because the state prosecutor seemed concerned about the authenticity of the evidence.
While the public still does not know whether the CHS’s server data was authentic, the FBI does and did long before Yu was arrested. But following Yu’s arrest, the FBI remained silent, apparently abandoning multiple confidential human sources and discarding an 18-month investigation into evidence that Yu maintained the personal information of tens of thousands of American election workers on a server in China. The other option is that the bureau allowed Yu to be arrested for crimes he did not commit and permitted the innocent American to be branded a felon and traitor by not informing the L.A. district attorney’s office that the China-server data was false.
With Yu’s civil case against True the Vote still pending in Texas, this year should bring some clarity to the question.
6. Supreme Court LeakWhile much overdue, 2023 should also bring closure to the Supreme Court leak scandal. That scandal, of course, concerns the leak of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to Politico. The May 2022 leak prompted Chief Justice John Roberts to direct Gail Curley, a former Army colonel and the court’s marshal, to investigate the source of the leak.
At the time, Roberts promised a full investigation and indicated the justices could expect a report from him in late fall, but to date, no report has been made public. Watch for 2023 to reveal details — and hopefully justice for the leaker.
7. Covid-19Several scandals related to Covid-19 seem poised to blossom in 2023. The “Twitter Files” revealed the government’s push to silence critics of the federal response, and those details will likely spur many questions about those efforts — from the origins of Covid-19 and the likelihood of a lab leak, to the funding of gain-of-function research, to the safety and efficacy of the jab. Related scandals may also evolve if it becomes clear that those responsible for formulating the government’s response to Covid knew of the validity of contrary scientific opinions and lied to the public.
8. SpyGate2023 will likely also be the year Special Counsel John Durham finishes his investigation of the Crossfire Hurricane and Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigations. Conventional wisdom says Durham’s team is done indicting individuals and that all that remains is a written report. If true, those hoping for significant jail time for conspirators will be disappointed. Nonetheless, a detailed synopsis of the Russia collusion hoax will expose the depth of the deceit peddled to our country by corrupt actors in the deep state.
Such a report, when coupled with “Twitter Files” revelations and the growing number of whistleblowers, might be just the impetus needed for a cleaning of intelligence agencies.
9. Pro-Life Targeting
Another scandal developing in 2023 concerns the Biden administration’s targeting of pro-lifers, with the federal prosecution of Mark Houck providing a platform to expose further DOJ politicization.
The Biden administration’s targeting of Houck first made news when some 20 law enforcement officers, including many with ballistic shields, long guns, and a battering ram, swarmed his family home in late September 2022 to arrest the father of seven on charges that he violated the Federal Access to Clinic Entrances, or FACE, Act. Since then, Houck has fought back in court, filing a motion to dismiss the charges and asserting it was the purported escort for Planned Parenthood, not Houck, who violated the FACE Act. Houck also argued in the motion that the Biden administration’s selective use of the FACE Act to prosecute pro-lifers compels the dismissal of the charges.
While a court has yet to rule on the motion, Houck will surely appeal a denial, forcing the Biden administration to defend its ham-handed attack on pro-lifers. And if the charges aren’t dismissed, Houck’s defense — that the Planned Parenthood escort was both the aggressor and the true perpetrator of a FACE Act crime — will be paraded for both the jury and the public at large. At the end of the day, it will likely be the Biden administration on trial.
10. Journalists’ SilenceThe tenth scandal of 2023 is one that can’t be watched because it is the dog that didn’t bark: the press that didn’t report.
After years of left-leaning bias in the press, Trump broke the establishment media. The reporters employed by the supposed standard-bearers of journalism abandoned any pretext of professionalism. They peddled the Russia collusion hoax and ignored the Hunter Biden laptop scandal. They stopped being watchdogs for our constitutional republic and began being propagandists for their preferred politicians. And given the media elite’s lack of response to the first nine scandals, their continuing silence in 2023 seems an assured final scandal.
Margot Cleveland is The Federalist's senior legal correspondent. She is also a contributor to National Review Online, the Washington Examiner, Aleteia, and Townhall.com, and has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Cleveland is a lawyer and a graduate of the Notre Dame Law School, where she earned the Hoynes Prize—the law school’s highest honor. She later served for nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk for a federal appellate judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Cleveland is a former full-time university faculty member and now teaches as an adjunct from time to time. As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of a young son with cystic fibrosis, Cleveland frequently writes on cultural issues related to parenting and special-needs children. Cleveland is on Twitter at @ProfMJCleveland. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.
THANKS TO: https://thefederalist.com/2023/01/03/10-scandals-to-keep-your-eye-on-in-2023/