Michael Wolff's new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, says Donald Trump's transgender military ban was a snap judgment that was made with "no evident reason" — a claim in conflict with prior news reports.
The new exposé, which the president called a "phony book ... full of lies, misrepresentations, and sources that don't exist," provides background to the controversial move Trump announced via Twitter on July 26. The tweet reversed an action of the Obama administration that allowed trans troops to serve openly — although courts have since blocked it from taking effect.
According to Fire and Fury, the week preceding the ban was a "head-slammer" for the Trump administration, which included the ongoing "comic-opera effort to appeal Obamacare," Jared Kushner's public denial of connections to Russia "in a reedy, self- pitying voice," and a West Virginia trip ending in an embarrassing speech to the Boy Scouts of America.
"The quick trip did not seem to improve Trump’s mood: the next morning, seething, the president again publicly attacked his attorney general and — for good measure and no evident reason — tweeted his ban of transgender people in the military," Wolff recounted.
Earlier in the day, Wolff said, "the president had been presented with four different options related to the military’s transgender policy. The presentation was meant to frame an ongoing discussion, but ten minutes after receiving the discussion points, and without further consultation, Trump tweeted his transgender ban."
The characterization of Trump's tweet as out-of-the-blue contradicts a July report from Politico, among others. That week, a spending bill that included funds for a Mexican border wall — a top campaign promise of the president — was compromised due to infighting among House Republicans over the Pentagon's funding of gender-confirmation surgeries.
Trump learned the proposal to increase the Pentagon's budget was in danger from anti-trans Republicans, who alerted the president. He then made the snap judgment to institute the ban as "a last-ditch attempt to save a House proposal full of his campaign promises that was on the verge of defeat," according to Politico's Capitol Hill sources.
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” Trump tweeted. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
Trump's ban on allowing trans troops "to serve in any capacity" would have been an extreme response to the matter being debated, which centered only on medical costs — the move blindsided many Republicans and military leaders, in addition to the general public.
However, the assertion that Trump instituted the ban with "no evident reason" is false. The move, if hurried, was made in calculated self-interest. It helped work toward Trump's campaign promise to not only build a border wall but also to undo the legacy of President Barack Obama.
Moreover, the ban is in line with the president's bowing to his base — right-wing conservatives. In fact, The New York Times reported that Tony Perkins, head of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council, “pressed Mr. Trump for months to make the statement he issued … saying transgender people would be barred from the military.”
So to view Trump's attacks on LGBT rights as random outbursts is misleading, because it ignores the influence of those who have long plotted how to take away the rights of transgender people. And now they have the ear of the president.