Mueller investigation, newest gilded age, and eight other stories you might have missed

“Things are only going to get worse from here.”
“Things are only going to get worse from here.”
Image: Reuters/ Stringer
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1. Just another Manafort monday

In the spirit of giving both sides of the story, let’s go contrarian on this Manafort Monday and lead with President Trump’s reaction to the first indictments connected to the Mueller investigation: “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus????? … Also, there is NO COLLUSION!” And from Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “We’ve been saying from day one there’s no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, and nothing in the indictment changes that at all.” Those reactions came following the news that three former Trump campaign officials have been charged by the special counsel. Paul Manafort and his longtime partner Rick Gates have plead not guilty to conspiracy and money laundering charges that could result in millions in fines and decades in prison. Meanwhile we learned that George Papadopoulos, an ex-advisor to the campaign, secretly plead “guilty three weeks ago to lying to federal agents about his contacts with Kremlin-connected Russians.”

+ A summary from WaPo: “The one-two punch delivered Monday by special prosecutor Robert S. Mueller III — an indictment of President Trump’s former campaign chairman and a guilty plea from a former campaign adviser — is designed to send a powerful message to everyone else caught up in the probe: the prosecutors aren’t bluffing.”

+ Some analysis from the Lawfare blog. “Any hope the White House may have had that the Mueller investigation might be fading away vanished this morning. Things are only going to get worse from here.”

+ Here are the latest updates from CNN.

2. Louse flipping

“It’s long been speculated that if Mueller’s team finds damaging evidence here, they’re reportedly hoping they can use charges to get Manafort to give them more information on the collusion matter (if he has any). That is: They may want him to flip against Trump, other Trump associates, or potentially Russians.” From Vox: Paul Manafort’s central role in the Trump-Russia investigation, explained.

+ Buzzfeed: These 13 wire transfers are a focus of the FBI Probe into Paul Manafort.

+ Remember that scene in Goodfellas where DeNiro’s character gets mad at his partners in crime for spending lavishly right after the big heist? Paul Manafort’s clothing tab ran about $1.3 million.

+ The Guardian: Who is Rick Gates, Manafort’s right-hand man and alleged partner in crime?

3. Papadopoulos goes the weasel

While Monday’s initial headlines were focused on Paul Manafort, the day may be remembered for the news about the guilty plea offered up by ex-Trump adviser George Papadopoulos. “Through his false statements and omissions, defendant … impeded the FBI’s ongoing investigation into the existence of any links or coordination between individuals associated with the Campaign and the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.”

+ From WaPo: Timeline: How a Trump adviser tried to work with the Russian government.

4. Pope-ularity contest

“Within the church, Francis has provoked a ferocious backlash from conservatives who fear that this spirit will divide the church, and could even shatter it. This summer, one prominent English priest said to me: ‘We can’t wait for him to die. It’s unprintable what we say in private. Whenever two priests meet, they talk about how awful Bergoglio is … he’s like Caligula: if he had a horse, he’d make him cardinal.'” Andrew Brown in The Guardian: The war against Pope Francis. “Pope Francis is one of the most hated men in the world today. Those who hate him most are not atheists, or protestants, or Muslims, but some of his own followers.”

5. Out of line

“Kevin Spacey has just invented something that has never existed before: a bad time to come out.” That sentiment expressed by Billy Eichner after Kevin Spacey responded to sexual abuse allegations was shared by many. Buzzfeed broke a story from actor Anthony Rupp in which he claimed that Kevin Spacey made a sexual advance toward him when he was 14. Spacey said he didn’t remember the encounter and then chose that moment to come out as gay.

+ GLAAD summarized the reactions (although most were a lot more heated): “Coming-out stories should not be used to deflect from allegations of sexual assault. This is not a coming-out story about Kevin Spacey, but a story of survivorship by Anthony Rapp and all those who bravely speak out against unwanted sexual advances. The media and public should not gloss over that.”

+ Netflix has announced that it will end House of Cards after its upcoming Season 6. (It’s only Monday, and America’s two fictional presidents, Frank Underwood and Donald Trump, are already having a terrible week…)

+ Think the stories about Harvey Weinstein can’t get any worse? Think again. Ronan Farrow’s latest: Weighing the costs of speaking out about Harvey Weinstein.

6. The survivors

“One of the misperceptions that accompanies a mass shooting is that those affected are divided into the victims, who are killed, and the survivors, who live. The news cycle moves on—as it already has, a month later—and the collective notion, insofar as anyone who wasn’t there or didn’t lose a loved one thinks about it, is that those who survived are in the process of moving on, too. But, for those who were injured, existence is transformed.” From The New Yorker: Life after near-death in the Las Vegas shooting.

+ NYT: “This is your life. You’re a quadriplegic.” A Las Vegas victim faces a hard reality. (Hey, is it still too soon after Vegas to talk about gun violence in America?)

7. It’s lonelier at the top

“Amazon today is a retailer, a logistics network, a book publisher, a movie studio, a fashion designer, a hardware maker, a cloud services provider, and far, far more. The private equity firm Pitchbook estimates the company Jeff Bezos founded in 1994 competes head-to-head with at least 129 major corporations just in major markets. That number grows higher as it adds new business units such as fashion, food, and analytics.” In Quartz, Michael J. Coren provides a good overview where we’re headed in a life under Amazon.

+ “Wealth concentration is as high as in 1905, this is something billionaires are concerned about. The problem is the power of interest on interest – that makes big money bigger and, the question is to what extent is that sustainable and at what point will society intervene and strike back?” From The Guardian: The world is witnessing a new Gilded Age as billionaires’ wealth swells to $6tn. (From Brexit to Trump, the economic divide is the one story that underpins all other stories.)

8. Truth to power

From NPR: “On Sunday the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority cancelled the highly disputed $300 million contract awarded to Whitefish Energy, a tiny American company tasked with restoring power to the still storm-ravaged island.” (We’ll see if there is any fallout for those who got the contract awarded to a two year-old company with two employees in the first place.)

+ A DC court just barred Trump from reversing the transgender troops policy.

9. Astrointestinal

“The Astros ended up winning 13–12 in a game that took 10 innings played over five hours and 17 minutes. It involved 14 pitchers, who gave up 28 hits, and seven home runs hit by seven different players.” And that seriously doesn’t even begin to describe the madness of game five—arguably the most fun (and more certainly, the most weird) world series game of all time. From The Ringer: “I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack.” At one point, announcer Joe Buck told viewers: “For those of you just joining us, you’ve missed a lot.” That could be the tagline for 2017.

+ The big night ended on a game-winning hit by Alex Bregman, who is Jewish! (I’ve been embargoing that line for my entire life!)

+ And about that guy who ripped the home run ball out of another fan’s hands.

10. Bottom of the news

“As is often the case on Tiny House Hunters, the single father had an impossibly small budget and wanted to find a home that was under 400 square feet and looked rustic.” Roxane Gay with a fun (and thought-provoking) piece on Tiny House Hunters and the shrinking American dream.

+ Apple reportedly fired an engineer because his daughter posted an iPhone X video from its secretive campus.

+ Is it first hand, or firsthand? One thing’s for sure. It matters.

Quartz now syndicates NextDraft, a daily roundup for the day’s most fascinating news curated by Dave Pell. Read the archive here. Sign up to get the newsletter or download the app here.