Less than a week after President Trump put pen to paper to make official his declaration of a ban on transgender military personnel, Secretary of Defense James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis has hit the brakes.
First, the caveat: the order itself specifically delegates authority to the Pentagon to decide the ways and means of implementing the ban.
But the optics of a member of Trump’s cabinet publicly deciding to halt the ban (at least temporarily) is not likely to end well.
Administration officials who have publicly differed with the president and his policies have gone on to a rocky road both with Trump himself and with the press.
Mattis is citing the need for internal studies before beginning the process of discharging transgender members of the military.
We won’t be surprised if this blows up in the administration’s face.
Here’s more from Redstate…
As we reported last night, Secretary of Defense James Mattis has effectively halted the President’s stated and decreed ban on transgender service in the military, suspending the implementation of the order while the military studies the issue. He did this using the authority explicitly given him by the President in issuing the order in the first place.
There will be consequences.
Politically, this is yet another example of someone appointed by Trump who is not doing as Trump has publicly ordered. Trump doubled and tripled down on his tweeted transgender ban, making a political hill to die on. Whatever the reality of the military’s need to review the order and the impact of such a policy, the appearance of being countermanded will matter a great deal to President Trump … assuming he is even exposed to the press discussing it. Rumors have it such negative press reaches his ears far less lately under Kelly’s careful management.
But assuming he does see what people are saying, it certainly puts Mattis in a position familiar to observers of Trump’s most competent appointees: directly opposing Trump’s public positions. That hasn’t worked out great for his many fires.