clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Vox Sentences: Obama did not tap that. Did the FBI?

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.

President Trump's new — and substantially revised — travel ban; what's really going on with these tapped-phone claims; a secret Facebook page for Marines posted hundreds of nonconsensual nude photos of Marine women.

Second verse, significantly modified from the first in hopes of passing constitutional muster

3 Trump Cabinet members Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
  • President Trump signed a new version of his temporary visa and refugee ban Monday. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • The new version doesn't affect anyone who already has a visa or has been admitted to the US. It does put a 90-day pause on granting new visas to people from six majority-Muslim countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen — Iraq is no longer included) and a 120-day pause on admitting all refugees (without the exemption for "religious minorities" the first attempt had).
  • By exempting people who are already in the US from the ban, the new executive order doesn't just make life easier for hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the US (though it definitely does that). It also makes the ban easier to defend in court — by limiting its impact to people who don't have much in the way of constitutional rights. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • (The attorney general of Washington state, whose office successfully put the original executive order on hold through litigation, is declaring victory — and not yet declaring whether they'll even try to challenge the new version.) [The Stranger / Sydney Brownstone]
  • This doesn't mean that the new executive order is toothless. Its effects will be felt abroad. As many as 61,000 refugees who've already been approved to resettle in the US will now have the next phase of their lives delayed or canceled entirely. [Pacific Standard / Francie Diep]
  • The Trump administration's justification for Monday's executive order leaned hard on the idea that refugees are inherently dangerous — citing, among other evidence, people who weren't planning to commit terrorist attacks in the US, and the refugees arrested in the incident now immortalized as the "Bowling Green massacre" (in which no one was killed). [Cato Institute / Alex Nowrasteh]
  • Monday's executive order, like its predecessor, lays the groundwork for a permanent shift in how people are admitted to the US — one in which immigrants are evaluated based on how much the US trusts the government of the countries they're coming from. That's terrible news for refugees. As Jennifer Daskal writes, it shows an inability to distinguish between terrorists and their victims — and punishes both. [Just Security / Jennifer Daskal]


Accused phone tapper Barack Obama Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic
  • You may have heard (and if you haven't, I, Dara, envy you) that on Saturday morning, President Trump tweeted allegations that former President Barack Obama had had the phones at Trump Tower tapped before the 2016 presidential election. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • White House staffers confessed not to know where Trump had gotten this idea. But the answer appears to be "the conservative fever swamp" — which synthesized existing reporting about the ongoing investigation of Trump associates' ties to Russia and spun them into a narrative in which Trump was targeted for political reasons by Obama himself. [CNN / Brian Stelter]
  • As Julian Sanchez explains (in a piece that actually explains the law and policy behind Trump's claim), the FBI's investigation may well have involved some surveillance of Trump associates' communications. But that doesn't mean the Trump Tower phones were involved (nor does it mean the FBI had probable cause of criminal activity in Trumpworld). [Just Security / Julian Sanchez]
  • FBI Director James Comey reportedly wants the public to know that any allegations of phone tapping are false, but doesn't appear to want to say that publicly himself, because he's worried about making the FBI look bad. [NYT / Michael S. Schmidt and Michael D. Shear]
  • The funny thing is that if Trump does have access to any information about his phones having been tapped, or just suspects that information exists, he has the power to unilaterally declassify it and release it to the public. In fact, you could argue (probably irresponsibly) that he declassified it just by tweeting. [Lawfare / Benjamin Wittes]
  • Instead of going that route, though, the White House is calling on Congress to investigate the president's allegations. While refusing to promise that he'll honor the conclusions of the investigation. [Huffington Post / Igor Bobic]
  • Congress wasn't super eager to jump on Trump's allegations when he first made them Saturday (perhaps because both Republicans and Democrats hoped such allegations would just go away).
  • But Trump was extremely pleased that cable TV news channels covered his accusations Saturday, and extremely displeased that Republicans didn't defend him more forcefully on the Sunday morning talk shows. So, an investigation it is. [Washington Post / Philip Rucker, Robert Costa, and Ashley Parker]

The Marines have a consent problem

Female Marines in Afghanistan US Marine Corps / Cpl. Marionne T. Mangrum
  • Hundreds (or thousands) of female Marine service members and veterans had their privacy violated when nude photos of them were nonconsensually uploaded to a private "Marines United" Facebook page, which has 30,000 members (all men). [Reveal / Thomas James Brennan]
  • The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is investigating the uploads. At least one subcontractor has been disciplined; dozens of Marines might have been involved in uploading and storing the photos. [CNN / AnneClaire Stapleton, Ryan Browne, Joe Sterling, and Barbara Starr]
  • The experience has been brutal for many women Marines (who were only allowed full participation in combat units in January, shortly before the nudes started appearing) and veterans. Women who were identified by their photos have been harassed online and in person. [Washington Post / Thomas Gibbons-Neff]
  • The nonprofit journalist and combat veteran Thomas Brennan, who broke the story, has also received death threats and threats against his family for his reporting. The reaction indicates that the Marine Corps still has a problem with cyberbullying — something it's struggled with in the past. [Marine Corps Times / Jeff Schogol and Andrew deGrandpre]
  • It also appears to still have a problem with sexual consent. A 2014 study found that 7.9 percent of female Marines said they were victims of sexual assault in the past year — the highest of any branch of the armed forces. [ / Brendan McGarry]
  • The Pentagon hasn't always been forthcoming about the scope of its sexual assault problem. But this time, it appears to be taking the lead. [AP / Richard Lardner]


  • Two senior Obama foreign policy staffers explain how America's outsize obsession with terrorism, despite it being a very minor threat in the scheme of things, helped lead to Trump. [NYT / Jon Finer and Robert Malley]
  • Argentina for years had the most tolerant immigration policy in the world. Now there's a wall on part of the border with Paraguay, and the president is cracking down on migrants. [BuzzFeed / Karla Zabludovsky]
  • Pope Francis's case for giving to panhandlers. [NYT]
  • This piece on the search for a male contraceptive is a great illustration of how CRISPR is changing the way drugs are developed. [Technology Review / Emily Mullin]
  • Oregon's population and economy have both grown rapidly in recent years. But its residents drive dramatically less than they did in 1999. Why? [Century Foundation / Jacob Anbinder]


  • "The aesthetics of the alt-right, I would say, could involve anime." [Richard Spencer to BuzzFeed / Ryan Broderick]
  • "A grad student droned on and on (and on) about 'prophecy' to a young woman whose eyes turned glassy. After 45 minutes, he said, 'Do you have any questions?' She continued to stare at him, wordless." [Boston Globe / Ted Weesner]
  • "A good place to start is for politicians never again to utter the words ‘preserve neighbourhood character.' In reality what they’re saying is, ‘Keep out.'" [Jan Breidenbach to The Economist]
  • "If you just say ‘Ossoff,’ some folks are gonna think, ‘Is he Muslim? Is he Lebanese? Is he Indian?’ It’s an ethnic-sounding name, even though he may be a white guy, from Scotland or wherever." [Jere Wood to New Yorker / Charles Bethea]
  • "Though elegant, those functions may also reveal hints of Russia’s economic malaise: At one recent event, bartenders served Kirkland vodka — the brand sold by the bulk-discount retailer Costco." [Politico / Michael Crowley]

Watch this: How BBC films the night side of Planet Earth

The technology that helps wildlife filmmakers see in the dark. [YouTube / Joss Fong and Dion Lee]