Dems are calling what they think is a bluff in the political poker game that is Donald Trump's transgender military ban. Not long after the 45th President announced via Twitter, this after allegedly consulting with military personnel, that he plans to ban transgender Americans from serving in the military, over 100 Democrat lawmakers penned a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis demanding proof that Trump actually got expert opinions that led to his decision.
"If senior military or Department of Defense personnel asked that the President ban transgender individuals from military service, we request access to any letters, e-mails, telephone transcripts, meeting logs and minutes, or other materials that document such requests," the Democrats wrote in the letter. "If the department has records of any other discussions that might have justified the President's claim, we request to see those materials, as well."
Transgender people in the military would cause "too much disruption" along with "tremendous medical costs," the president tweeted Wednesday morning.
Trump's announcement came as a surprise to Mattis, who was discouraged that the Commander in Chief would resort to Twitter to break the news, while just giving him and his department one day to prep. The Senate was also notified that Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, the top military officer, advised the president not to go ahead with the ban. The Senate wants to ensure there wasn't a breakdown in communication and Trump made his decision based on the advisement of military personnel.
According to Trump, it is the authority of Mattis to decide whether active duty service members can continue to serve, but as of next March transgender soldiers will not be allowed to transition on the dime of the American public.
This is not just a partisan issue, as many conservatives have joined their liberal counterparts. One of them is long term Arizona Sen. John McCain (R), who himself is a Vietnam veteran. Back in September, he joined three Democrats in proposing a bill prohibiting the military from kicking out active duty soldiers who identified as transgender. "Any member of the military who meets the medical and readiness standards should be allowed to serve — including those who are transgender," McCain wrote.
Mattis has four months to put a policy in place.