clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Vox Sentences: The Trump era has begun

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

The executive orders Trump signed today are seismic in their implications. The ones he might yet sign? Even more so.

Give me your tired, your ... eh, screw it

A Muslim woman Spencer Platt/Getty Images
  • With a pair of executive orders signed Wednesday, President Donald Trump made more changes to immigration policy in a single day than has been done at any other point in recent history. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • Yes, okay, he directed the Department of Homeland Security to figure out what funds could be used to pay for a wall. [Reuters / Julia Edwards Ainsley]
  • This is not making Mexico happy — pressure is building on President Enrique Peña Nieto to cancel his visit to Washington planned for the end of the month. [WSJ / José de Córdoba]
  • (Americans who are familiar with the border — say, Texas's congressional delegation — aren't too thrilled either.) [Texas Tribune / Abby Livingston]
  • But beyond the wall, the executive orders are practical — and significant. They make many, or even most, unauthorized immigrants into semi-criminal "priorities" for deportation. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • And they expand detention of people crossing the border — which is something of a problem, since many of those people are asylum-seeking families (many of whom have small children). [CNN / Claudia Morales]
  • There's more coming. Later in the week, the president is expected to sign an executive order that would suspend all refugee entries to the US for several months, and ban all entries from seven majority-Muslim countries for at least 30 days. [Greg Siskind via Twitter]
  • Documents leaked to Vox indicate that Trump's White House has at least considered a much broader crackdown on legal and unauthorized immigrants. But whether they'll go through with remains to be seen. [Vox / Matthew Yglesias et al.]

Torture is the new black

An alleged CIA black site in Poland Artur Reszko/AFP/Getty Images
  • Speaking of leaked drafts of executive orders: President Trump is reportedly also considering an executive order that would reopen CIA "black sites" and resume the use of "enhanced interrogation," known to honest human beings as torture. [Washington Post / Greg Miller]
  • "Black sites," for those of you who don't remember (or have blocked out) the presidency of George W. Bush, were secret CIA prisons located abroad used for interrogating detainees, with the help of torturous techniques like waterboarding. [Washington Post / Julie Vitkovskaya]
  • If real, the draft order would certainly be news to Trump's secretary of defense, James Mattis, who just got confirmed by the Senate on the promise not to let the US resort to torture — and who was reportedly "blindsided" by news that the administration was considering reinstating it via executive order. [Politico / Austin Wright]
  • But maybe the draft isn't real. White House press secretary (and known paragon of honesty) Sean Spicer maintains that the draft order on black sites is "not a White House document." [AP]
  • Indeed, it appears to be identical to a document drafted in 2012, as a potential executive order to be signed in the first 100 days of the Mitt Romney administration. [BuzzFeed News / Ali Watkins and Chris Geidner]

Voting is most assuredly NOT the new black

Bernhard Langer Chris Condon/PGA TOUR
  • On Monday night, during a meeting with congressional leaders, President Trump threw out the claim that he would have won the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election had it not been for "3 to 5 million" votes getting cast illegally. [AP / Ken Thomas and Erica Werner]
  • This reanimates a post-election lie coming from the Infowars corner of the internet. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • But it reinforces a longstanding Trump belief about the ubiquity of voter fraud — something he believes because of an anecdote allegedly told to him by a pro golfer whose German friend, while (presumably) in line to vote illegally, saw people who looked like they might have come from Latin America. (I, Dara Bethany Lind, swear I am not making this up.) [NYT / Glenn Thrush]
  • For whatever reason (presumably an attempt to call Trump's bluff), reporters decided it was a good idea to ask the Trump administration whether it was willing to investigate such massive voter fraud. [CNN / Kevin Liptak and Dan Merica]
  • Bad move; Trump's bluff is an unlisted number. On Wednesday morning, he announced he would launch a "major investigation" into voter fraud, which Sean Spicer suggested will focus on states like California; by afternoon, it was the subject of yet another potential executive order. [Time / Zeke J. Miller]
  • This was utterly predictable. The myth of widespread voter fraud has been cynically used to push real restrictions on voting for years. Trump's innovation is that he actually believes in the necessity of what he's doing. [Vox / German Lopez]



  • "Six million years ago, giant otters weighing more than 100 pounds lived among birds and water lilies in the wooded wetlands of China's Yunnan province." [NPR / Merrit Kennedy]
  • "The author believes that settled, stable societies have an inevitable tendency toward greater inequality. The only substantive countervailing forces are all bad news: mass-mobilization wars, social revolution, plague and state collapse." [WSJ / Greg Clark]
  • "From 1977 to 2013, the last six incoming presidents — Jimmy Carter through Barack Obama — made 109 appointments to Cabinet-level positions. Just six failed: Five nominees withdrew, and one was voted down by the Senate." [FiveThirtyEight / Nathaniel Rakich]
  • "Two Amish men in Auburn, Ky., filed a lawsuit last month saying a city ordinance requiring horses to wear equine diapers — bags designed to catch manure — violated the ability of Amish residents to exercise their religion." [WSJ / Nicole Hong]
  • "NYU law professor Samuel Isaacharoff argues that the ability of American parties to effectively coordinate political action has been undermined by reforms and legal restrictions including the decline in patronage, the increasing reliance on primary elections (I would add, especially 'open' primaries), and campaign finance reform that disproportionately targets highly-visible fund-raising by the parties themselves. The result is 'hollowed out' institutions that are vulnerable to 'hostile takeover.'" [Niskanen Center / Jacob Levy]

Watch this: The incredible sport of cup stacking, explained

Sport stacking, cup stacking, speed stacking — whatever you call it, this sport is mesmerizing to watch. [YouTube / Phil Edwards]

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.