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Vox Sentences: Documents, pompousness, incompetence, Papadopoulos

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Ella Nilsen. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

Robert Mueller hands down his first indictments; Kevin Spacey is in the middle of the latest Hollywood sexual misconduct scandal; the US military is investigating the death of another Green Beret, possibly at the hands of his fellow soldiers.

Paul Manafort had a no good, very bad day

Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • About a week’s worth of news happened all at once today, with some very big developments in the Trump-Russia investigation headed up by special counsel Robert Mueller. [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem]
  • First up, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates both turned themselves in to authorities and were charged on 12 criminal counts in court today, including money laundering and tax evasion. [NYT / Adam Goldman and Nicholas Fandos]
  • The charges Mueller is nabbing Manafort and Gates with have nothing to do with possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. All the charges are for things that happened before the 2016 election; namely, that the two men laundered millions of dollars they made helping a pro-Russia party in Ukraine and concealed millions more of their assets from the US government illegally. [Vox / Andrew Prokop, Zack Beauchamp, and Alex Ward]
  • There is a method behind Mueller’s actions: Experts believe he will try to use these charges as a way to get Manafort and Gates to testify about other members of the Trump campaign. [Vox / Sean Illing]
  • Which brings us to the second part of today’s news: the indictment of George Papadopoulos, a young, little-known foreign policy adviser with the Trump campaign whom Mueller’s team arrested weeks ago and who has already pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. [NBC News / Tom Winter, Tracy Connor, Ken Dilanian, and Julia Ainsley]
  • Papadopoulos is certainly not as big of a name as Manafort, but he actually may be a bigger deal, because he was arrested specifically for lying to the FBI about trying to set up contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians, who promised Papadopoulos “dirt” on Clinton. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • Mueller’s team has reached a plea deal with Papadopoulos, which most likely means he has information on other people. And he’s just a junior member of the Trump staff, meaning that if Mueller can compel Manafort to testify, there could be more people implicated in the future. [Washington Post / Paul Waldman]
  • Manafort and Gates have both pleaded not guilty, so it looks like they will fight the charges and won’t be cooperating with Mueller’s investigation for the time being. But if convicted, they could face years of prison time unless they reach a plea deal. [CNN / Meg Wagner, Amanda Wills, and Brian Ries]

Accused of sexual misconduct by another man, Kevin Spacey decided to come out

Kevork Djansezian/BAFTA LA/Getty Images for BAFTA LA
  • Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey is the latest high-profile Hollywood figure to be accused of sexual misconduct, this time by actor Anthony Rapp. [BuzzFeed / Adam Vary]
  • As first reported by BuzzFeed, Rapp, now 46, alleged that Spacey made a "sexual advance" toward him in 1986, when he was just 14 years old and Spacey was 26. The two were on Broadway in New York City at the time, Rapp said. [BuzzFeed / Adam Vary]
  • Spacey did not deny Rapp’s allegation outright, issuing a statement in which he claimed he did not remember the encounter while also leaving the door open for the possibility that Rapp’s statement could be true, and apologizing for “deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.” [NYT / Daniel Victor]
  • Then Spacey said something that really caused an uproar: He came out as gay, and said that Rapp’s allegation has encouraged him to do so. [Washington Post / Amy B. Wang and Elahe Izadi]
  • The response from LGBTQ figures and organizations was swift and biting; people said they were deeply troubled that Spacey was conflating making a sexual advance toward a young teen with coming out and believed he was using the former announcement to distract from the allegations. [Tom + Lorenzo]
  • There have long been rumors about Spacey’s sexuality that the actor has either ducked or tried to quash, and many people felt that the timing of his coming out now was not a coincidence. [Vox / Aja Romano]
  • While it remains to be seen what (if any) the professional repercussions will be for Spacey, House of Cards, the popular Netflix show in which he stars, announced today that it will end after season six is released (as that season has already been filmed). [Deadline / Dominic Patten]

Another Green Beret died in Africa

Stefan Postles/Getty Images
  • An American Special Forces soldier in Africa died under mysterious circumstances earlier this year, and it’s suspected that his fellow troops may have killed him. [NYT / Eric Schmitt]
  • The US Navy is investigating two members of the elite Navy SEAL Team 6 who are suspected of killing the 34-year-old Army Green Beret, Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar, in Mali. [NYT / Eric Schmitt]
  • Melgar died in June, and a military examiner recently ruled his death was a homicide by strangulation. [CNN / Barbara Starr, Eli Watkins, and Ryan Browne]
  • Not much is known about the Navy SEALs who are being investigated in Melgar’s killing; their names have not yet been released, and no formal charges have been filed. It’s been reported that they were living in the same housing unit as Melgar. [Washington Post / Dan Lamothe]
  • The other big question mark is why Melgar was killed — officially, there’s very little we know about that. The New York Times talked to other soldiers, who offered a range of theories, from a household dispute gone horribly wrong to suggestions that Melgar was killed for happening upon illicit activity among the SEALs. None of these theories have been verified so far. [NYT / Eric Schmitt]
  • No matter what, it’s a very bad look for SEAL Team 6, the elite fighting force responsible for killing al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden. [ABC News / Luis Martinez]
  • It’s also raising the question of what exactly US troops are doing in Mali. The military has been unusually quiet about Melgar’s death, not wanting to reveal more about US operations in the country. The military is still facing ongoing questions about the deaths of four other Special Forces soldiers in Niger, which borders Mali. [CBS News / David Martin]


  • Ford engineers testing out seats in the new Fiesta are getting a helping hand ... or rather, a helping butt, from a robot. A robutt, if you will. [New Atlas / Nick Lavars]
  • A federal judge has dealt a blow to President Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military, putting an injunction on the ban and ruling that the military can’t deny troops medical care. [Politico / Jacqueline Klimas]
  • How would you feel if you child was being (partially) babysat by Amazon’s Alexa or Microsoft’s Cortana? A new device from Mattel wants to help making parenting easier by gathering data on your baby; depending on whom you ask, that’s either innovative or super creepy. [WBUR / Michaeleen Doucleff and Allison Aubrey]
  • There’s a serious butter shortage in France (a country that really loves butter). People are getting so desperate that some news outlets are broadcasting instructions on how to churn your own. [NYT / Aurelien Breeden]
  • Faced with a growing population and a doctor shortage, Texas is trying to draw more medical students to study at its public medical schools, which are extremely inexpensive compared to private schools. The state hopes students will stay in the state to practice medicine. [STAT / Megha Satyanarayana]


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