President Donald Trump — seemingly out of nowhere — announced a major shift in military policy on Wednesday morning, declaring transgender service members would be banned from serving.
The bombshell announcement, which would reverse Obama-era policy accepting openly transgender troops in the military, blindsided Republican lawmakers and even the Pentagon, who were not consulted prior to the impulsive series of presidential decrees.
A number of GOP lawmakers voiced their disappointment with the shift in policy, as well as the way it was rolled out — without alerting the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Defense Secretary James Mattis — who had asked for more time to assess the military’s transgender policy — was on vacation when Trump tweeted the announcement, and was reportedly “appalled” that Trump made the incredibly consequential proclamation via tweet.
There has been much debate as to whether we should consider Trump’s tweets as dear-diary-musings or official statements from the White House. Administration officials on cable news can never seem to decide whether to downplay the posts as just “social media” — as bloviator-in-chief Sebastian Gorka is fond of doing — or hold them up as “official statements.”
And as lawmakers, Pentagon officials and commentators regained their balance in the wake of Trump’s surprise announcement and the outrage it stirred up, many began to wonder whether the president’s tweets actually mean anything.
Nancy Youssef, Buzzfeed’s national security correspondent, provided an interesting look into the reception from within the Pentagon:
Overheard at the Pentagon: “We’re taking orders via Twitter now?”
— Nancy Youssef, نانسى (@nancyayoussef) July 26, 2017
Then on Thursday, Marine Gen. Joe Dunford of the Joint Chiefs informed service members in a statement that there “will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance.”
“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,” Dunford added.
So it appears the Department of Defense plans to ignore Trump’s tweets until the White House gets it together and actually consults with the Pentagon over its decision to upend a major military policy.
Meanwhile, Paul Ryan was asked about Trump’s tweets in a press conference on Thursday, and doled out a telling quip.
“So about the president’s latest tweet,” a reporter started, a question formulation the perennially exasperated Speaker of the House has become well-accustomed to hearing.
“I don’t read that stuff,” Ryan confessed with a laugh.
Watch above, via CNN.
[image via screengrab]
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