Trump fumed about transgender soldiers getting ‘clipped’ before announcing ban, book claims
Donald Trump privately vented about transgender soldiers getting “clipped” before hastily tweeting that they would be banned from the military, it has been claimed.
The allegations come in new book, Fear: Trump in the White House, penned by Watergate reporter Bob Woodward
The book includes a detailed account of Trump’s ban on transgender soldiers, which was abruptly announced in July 2017.
An excerpt on LGBTQ Nation suggests Trump made the decision after receiving a memo on the proposed implementation of Obama-era guidance allowing transgender troops to serve openly.
Woodward recalls: “Trump had proclaimed himself a supporter of LGBT rights. Now he told [Chief Strategist Steve] Bannon, ‘What the f**k? They’re coming in here, they’re getting clipped’ — a crude reference to gender reassignment surgery. Someone had told him that each surgery cost $250,000, an inflated number. ‘Not going to happen,’ he said.”
On July 26, the day that the ban was announced, the book alleges that Trump had been set to meet with Bannon and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to discuss the issue.
The book explains: “Priebus, Bannon and several lawyers reached the president on the speakerphone in the residence. He was not expected in the Oval Office for at least an hour.”
On the call, Priebus told Trump: “Mr President, we know you are going to come down soon but we wanted to give you a heads-up on a decision memo on transgender people in the military.”
After his advisers set out a scale of four options on the issue—from continuing the Obama-era guidance to banning transgender troops—Trump told them: “I’ll be down at 10. Why don’t you guys come and see me then? We’ll figure it out.”
However, Trump instead opted to announce a snap decision via Twitter shortly after the call, tweeting at 8:55 AM that transgender troops would be banned “after consultation with my Generals and military experts.”
The book backs up previous reports that Defense Secretary James Mattis and the Pentagon were not made aware of the decision in advance.
It continues: “Mattis was not happy with Trump’s decision to tweet the news and the effect it would have on serving and deployed troops. On vacation in the Pacific Northwest, he was caught by surprise.”
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Mattis put up a brief resistance on the issue, with an aide to the defense secretary telling Bannon: “We can’t stand by this transgender decision. This is just not right. They are American citizens.”
However, Bannon directed the Mattis camp to “take one for the team,” adding: “These guys are coming over to get full surgery… we’re supposed to pay for that?”
Subsequent attempts to begin enforcing the ban have been mired in legal action.
Four separate courts have issued injunctions preventing policies restricting transgender troops from coming into effect, and the Obama-era guidance permitting trans troops to serve went into effect automatically on January 1, 2018, after a court blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to thwart it.
The account that Trump made the decision unilaterally without a key discussion with aides corroborates previous reports on the issue, including Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury.
However, the book does not reference separate claims that the issue came to the attention of the White House after Republicans in Congress attempted to attach amendments targeting transgender troops to must-pass government legislation.