More than a hundred Democratic members of Congress want to know if the Pentagon advised President Donald Trump on his July decision to ban transgender troops from serving in the US military.
In a letter sent to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Tuesday, Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), and 114 other House members, are asking the Pentagon to hand over documents that show whether defense officials advised Mr. Trump to block transgender service members from serving.
“We seek access to these materials in order to determine whether the president, his national security team, and military leaders are actively coordinating policy with one another, or whether the president’s transgender ban announcement reflected a breakdown in communication,” the letter reads.
“As you know, clear communication between the White House and the Pentagon is essential to our nation’s security.”
The New York Times reported that Mattis was given just a day’s notice before the announcement.
In his tweets, Trump said he had consulted “with my Generals and military experts” and that “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.”
“We seek information to discover the proof of where and when the Pentagon advised the President that this was the best idea for our country,” McEachin said in a statement. “If there is proof then we can evaluate that, if there is no proof then the President lied to the American people once again.”
Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last month “any individual who meets the physical and mental standards” should be allowed to serve.
The RAND Corp. conducted a study in 2016 that found there were 2,000 to 11,000 transgender active-duty troops. The report also found that allowing transgender service members to serve openly would “have minimal impact on readiness and health care costs.”
The report was commissioned by the Pentagon before then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter lifted the longtime ban on transgender troops.
Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon in August, Mattis said he was still studying the issue.