Hours after President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he would ban transgender individuals from serving in any role in the military, the White House acknowledged that the policy details would still have to be worked out with the Pentagon, as officials were unable to answer the basic question of whether transgender troops would be kicked out of the military immediately under the President’s ban.
“When the President made the decision yesterday, the Secretary of Defense was immediately informed,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, confirming reports that the Pentagon had been blindsided by today’s announcement.
Asked repeatedly how the President’s decision would affect those who already serve in the armed forces, Sanders said that’s all to be worked out.
“I would imagine the Department of Defense would be the lead on that,” Sanders said, at one point threatening to end the briefing as she was peppered with questions about the subject.
“Again, the implementation policy is going to something the White House and the Department of Department of Defense have to work together to lawfully determine,” Sanders told reporters.
The story erupted without warning on Wednesday morning, when the President suddenly tweeted that transgender individuals would not be allowed to “serve in any capacity” in the military.
The Pentagon made clear that it was not part of the final decision, telling reporters to call the White House for an explanation – but there was no answer by the afternoon to the simple question of would transgender service members be booted immediately out of the military.
“That’s something that the Department of Defense and the White House will have to work together as implementation takes place,” Sanders said.
On Capitol Hill, there was disbelief expressed by both parties about the decision, and the lack of details.
“The President’s tweet this morning regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter,” said Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who noted the lack of details, and the fact that the Pentagon had announced a 6-month review of the matter on June 30.
“We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so—and should be treated as the patriots they are,” McCain added.
So far, the Trump policy on transgender service – is just the President’s tweets.