Transcript for Trump tweets sweeping ban of transgender people from serving in the military
Good evening, and it's great to have you with us here on a Wednesday night, and we begin with president trump's sudden and sweeping ban using Twitter to reveal it. Tweeting he will ban transgender people from serving in the military in any capacity. It came on the day when the defense secretary is on vacation, and the Pentagon S saying essentially, if you have questions, ask the white house. The unexpected move brought immediate outrage, especially after promises made by then-candidate trump. ABC's chief white house correspondent, Jonathan Karl, lea leading us off. Reporter: As a candidate, Donald Trump promised to protect gay, lesbian and transgender rights. The first nominee ever to make such a promise at a Republican convention. As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our lgbtq citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology. Believe me. Reporter: But today, a sudden reversal. The president surprising even his own top advisers with a major change in military policy announced via Twitter. "Please be advised," he declared, "The United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail." The Pentagon directed all questions to the white house, making it clear the change came from the president himself. "We will continue to work closely with the white house to address the new guidance provided by the commander-in-chief." But the white house couldn't provide answers to the most basic questions. What happens to transgender service members now? Are they immediately thrown out of the military? That's something that the department of defense and the white house will have to work together as implementation takes place and is done so lawfully. Reporter: A study commissioned last year by the Pentagon estimates there are roughly 2,500 transgender service members on active duty. One of them, air force staff sergeant, Logan Ireland, profiled in a "New York Times" documentary while he was serving in Afghanistan. There's not a lot of people that know I'm transgender. It's very much on a need to know basis. Reporter: Today, responding to the president, staff sgt. Ireland said, "I would like to see them try to kick me out of my military. I would challenge them in court. You are not going to deny me my right to serve my country when I am fully qualified and able and willing to give my life." The new policy, and how it was announced, was quickly criticized by fellow Republicans in congress. I want a stront military, but I want to be fair and the best way to do that is to have a hearing, not a tweet. Reporter: And the president's most prominent transgender supporter, Caitlyn Jenner, retweeted trump's own words from the campaign, "Thank you to the lgbt community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs." Jenner is now asking "What happened to your promise to fight for them?" All right. So let's get to Jon Karl live at the white house tonight, and Jon, first you had the Pentagon today saying if you have questions, ask the white house. Tonight, you have now learned that the white house and senate armed services committees did not know anything about this either? Reporter: David, the move caught the leaders of those committees completely by surprise. The chairman of the senate armed services committee, John McCain called the president's tweet unclear, and then this. There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train and deploy to leave the military regardless of their gender identity, David. Thank you for leading us off. The president tweeting about
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