Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Trump's Transgender Tweets Leave Military Baffled And GOP Senators Fuming
As Defense Secretary James Mattis vacationed and President Trump took to his personal Twitter account this morning to announce a blanket ban on transgender people in the military, transgender veterans were understandably confused and freaked out. “We have so many people who have come out to their units, and they’re scared,” Laila Ireland, a transgender Army vet and activist told Task and Purpose.
But even Trump loyalists in Congress and and active-duty military leaders were taken aback by the president’s announcement.
The Senate Armed Services Committee confirmed to NBC News this morning that the panel had no inkling that Trump’s announcement was coming. Task & Purpose has learned from frustrated staffers that the House Armed Services Committee was not briefed, either.
Leadership at Fort Bragg, the home of airborne and special operations and the largest military installation in the world, confirmed that they had no idea what was happening. “At this time we have not received any change in policy guidance with respect to transgenders [sic],” base representatives said in a statement.
Several Republicans in Congress wasted no time in distancing themselves from Trump’s tweets and calling for more compassion for currently serving transgender troops.
“I don’t think we should be discriminating against anyone,” Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said in a statement blasting “the policy the President tweeted today.”
“Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them,” Hatch added.
Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama echoed those sentiments in a comment to CNN’s John Berman. “He said (roughly) ‘I think everybody should be able to serve,” Berman tweeted this morning.
Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a Navy veteran and former Vietnam POW, said in a statement that Trump’s morning tweetstorm was “yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter.”
McCain added that the ban, as Trump explained it, makes no sense. “The Department of Defense has already decided to allow currently-serving transgender individuals to stay in the military, and many are serving honorably today," he said. "Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving. There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military—regardless of their gender identity."
Trump’s ban, which he announced on his personal Twitter account, was all the more surprising to lawmakers and Pentagon staffers because it undercut an ongoing policy review by Defense Secretary James Mattis. On July 1, Mattis gave his service chiefs six more months to study how new transgender enlistees could be integrated into each of the services.
That review was supposed to conclude Dec. 1. But Trump’s tweets preempted it.
Meanwhile, an estimated 2,000 to 10,000 transgender people currently in the military have been able to serve openly since last year, under a directive by then-defense secretary Ash Carter. What happens to them now is unclear.
In a statement to Task & Purpose, Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis referred “all questions about the President’s statements to the White House,” but added that the department “will continue to work closely with the White House to address the new guidance provided by the Commander-in-Chief on transgender individuals serving the military.
“We will provide revised guidance to the Department in the near future,” Davis said.
Longtime Buzzfeed national security correspondent Nancy Youssef reported that she’d overheard someone in the Pentagon this morning react quizzically to Trump’s decision.
The Pentagon staffer reportedly asked: "We're taking orders via Twitter now?"
White supremacist Coast Guard officer who allegedly plotted mass violence imprisoned ahead of fresh charges
GREENBELT, Md. (Reuters) - A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant accused of amassing a cache of weapons and plotting to attack Democratic politicians and journalists was ordered held for two weeks on Thursday while federal prosecutors consider charging him with more crimes.
Attorneys for the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America have filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General William Barr and President Donald Trump asking the court to recognize the citizenship of an Alabama woman who left the U.S. to join ISIS and allow she and her young son to return to the United States.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will leave "a small peacekeeping group" of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a U.S. pullout, the White House said on Thursday, as President Donald Trump pulled back from a complete withdrawal.
Trump claims border wall is under construction 'right now' using fence repair footage from 5 months ago
With a legal fight challenge mounting from state governments over the Trump administration's use of a national emergency to construct at the U.S.-Mexico border, the president has kicked his push for the barrier into high gear.
On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted a time-lapse video of wall construction in New Mexico; the next day, he proclaimed that "THE WALL IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION RIGHT NOW"
But there's a big problem: The footage, which was filmed more than five months ago on Sep. 18, 2018, isn't really new wall construction at all, and certainly not part of the ongoing construction of "the wall" that Trump has been haggling with Congress over.
Group of American vets detained in Haiti on weapons charges brought back to US, arrested upon landing
A group comprised of former U.S. military veterans and security contractors who were detained in Haiti on weapons charges has been brought back to the United States and arrested upon landing, The Miami-Herald reported.
The men — five Americans, two Serbs, and one Haitian — were stopped at a Port-au-Prince police checkpoint on Sunday while riding in two vehicles without license plates, according to police. When questioned, the heavily-armed men allegedly told police they were on a "government mission" before being taken into custody.