President Donald Trump’s rollout of a ban on transgender people serving “in any capacity” in the military was so haphazard that 30 hours later, the Department of Defense’s official “Transgender Policy” page has yet to be updated to reflect the change.
“[T]ransgender Service members may serve openly, and they can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military solely for being transgender individuals,” the site said at the time of this writing. It also included a link to a RAND report that found transgender personnel would pose few if any issues for the military.
The president’s decision to announce a major policy on Twitter was seen as yet another fumble (his Muslim travel ban, for example, has been tied up in courts for months) despite his claim that he did it “after consultation with my Generals and military experts.”
BuzzFeed reported that the Pentagon was so out of the loop, “many said they were left in suspense for nine minutes, the time between the first and second tweet.” BuzzFeed reported. “Only after the second tweet did military officials receive the news the president was announcing a personnel change on Twitter.”
Even Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was given only a day’s notice about the decision, according to the New York Times.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain of Arizona said the announcement was “unclear,” calling it “yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter.”
And Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican, said he wanted “more information and clarity” on Trump’s policy, adding that transgender people “deserve the best we can do for them.”
On Thursday, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was forced to clarify that the policy will not change until the White House sends the Defense Department a rules change and the secretary of defense issues new guidelines.
A House Republican aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Washington Post on Thursday that that while GOP leaders were aware that the White House was reviewing of the issue of transgender service members, they were not given heads-up about the announcement and that it was “way beyond what we expected.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to downplay the confusion surrounding the policy change, telling reporters Wednesday that the Pentagon and White House have yet to nail down the all the details on how to implement it.
The White House did not respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.