For Nine Long Minutes, It Seemed Like the U.S. Was on the Precipice of War

July 27, 2017, 11:20 PM UTC

As he’s wont to do, President Donald Trump used Twitter to announce a major policy change yesterday. But before he completed a series of his tweets that would support banning transgender people from the U.S. military, several individuals in the Pentagon reportedly feared that Trump had a different target in mind: Pyongyang.

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……” Trump tweeted, leaving the world on tenterhooks.

It took a full nine minutes for Trump to continue his statement. The move reportedly led the U.S. Department of Defense to begin to worry that Trump might announce strikes on North Korea.

Thankfully, more tweets soon followed, making it clear that Trump had domestic matters, not international ones, in mind:

On its face, the Pentagon’s worry seems inconceivable. How could defense officials be surprised when a U.S. President announces a military strike? Because Donald Trump has been known to announce decisions to the public before sharing them with his own advisers.

Indeed, Trump’s assertion that he “consulted” with generals and military experts before coming to his decision on transgender people participating in the military appears to be untrue, according to a Buzzfeed report. Military officials say they were not expecting the decision, certainly not at that time.

Trump’s tweet sparked nationwide protests Wednesday night. Many carried signs simply with the word “resist,” and the slogan “trans people are not a burden” was visible everywhere. The American Civil Liberties Union said it would sue if President Trump issued an executive order on the ban, a necessary step to turn the decision into action. And several legislators, including those from the President’s own party, weighed in.

Major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter,” said Sen. John McCain, himself a Navy veteran, in a statement reacting to the news. “The statement was unclear. Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving. 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.”

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