White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders conducted her first briefing since officially landing the job on Wednesday, just in time to discuss President Trump banning transgender people from the military — and didn’t rule out immediately removing them.
Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to ban transgender people from the United States military, marking a major shift from current policy that has shocked the LGBT community. Sanders was asked if current transgender members of the military will immediately be thrown out.
“That’s something that the Department of Defense and the White House will have to work [on] together as implementation takes place,” Sanders said.
She was pressed on whether or not transgender soldiers currently overseas will be sent home and didn’t offer much of a different answer.
“The implementation policy is going to be something that the White House and the Department of Defense have to work together [on] to lawfully determine,” Sanders said.
Sanders was then asked why Trump decided to reverse an Obama Administration policy that allows transgender people to serve in the military. Members of the transgender community have been able to serve openly in the military since last year, when then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban.
“The president has a lot of support for all Americans and certainly wants to protect all Americans at all times,” Sanders said. “The President has expressed concerned since this Obama policy came into effect but he’s also voiced that this is a very expensive and disruptive policy.”
She continued: “Based on consultation that he’s had with his national security team, he came to the conclusion that it erodes military readiness and unit cohesion and made the decision based on that.”
Sanders’ first official briefing as press secretary got feisty when CBS News’ Major Garrett asked why Trump would announce the ban on Twitter if the White House can’t even answer a question about what happens to transgender people currently serving.
“Look, sometimes I think you have to make decisions and once he made a decisions he didn’t feel it was necessary to hold that decisions,” Sanders said. “This was a military decision… and nothing more.”
Former Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned on Friday after hedge fund guru Anthony Scaramucci was named the new White House communications director. Scaramucci immediately removed the word “deputy” from Sanders’ title and political watchdogs are hopeful the change leads to more on-camera briefings.
Scaramucci tweeted Monday, “The TV Cameras are back on,” and he previously told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he thinks the cameras should be on for press briefings. Spicer’s team had been frequently conducting off-camera briefings.
Sanders eventually tried to cut the briefing short unless reporters had questions that weren’t related to the transgender ban. Reporters didn’t stand down after her warning and she stopped taking questions, noting the Trump has an event starting soon.