Jul 27, 2017

Inside the chaos on Trump's transgender troops ban

White House and Pentagon officials are providing virtually no details about President Trump's decision to ban transgender troops from the military for a simple enough reason: There aren't any.

In the history of presidential decisions, this may have one of the biggest gaps ever between the amount of consequence, symbolism and resonance, and the quantity of internal deliberation or consideration:

  • Trump jumped the gun with his tweets yesterday morning, surprising the Pentagon and leaving thousands of troops in limbo because there has been no guidance on whether the decision is retroactive.
  • That was it: No press release, no white paper, no FAQ. The rule-making and guidance process is just beginning.
  • And this is a policy that administration officials feel is virtually certain to be challenged in court on constitutional grounds.

Something this big just isn't done this way. It's a victory for Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, no doubt. But there wasn't a huge fight, or clear factions like on the Paris climate decision. Vice President Pence had little to no involvement. It wasn't on the radar of most of the West Wing's New York crowd.

  • Administration officials are like: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. They're not mad. They're not defensive. They're just going: Yup.
  • Conservative leaders, including Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, had been talking to the White House about the issue. But as described by administration officials, the decision occurred almost by spontaneous combustion after Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, demanded it as part of an appropriations deal.
  • The White House appreciated his help on health care, and will need what the president calls "the Freedom people" again.
  • So it's part of the current West Wing instinct to go with the base. But Trump apparently gave no great thought that this was his first real foray into the culture wars.
  • Defense Secretary James Mattis wanted to be deliberative for internal reasons, but his process was short-circuited by the tweets.

Stand by for answers to such questions as whether the military will continue to cover counseling and drugs, but not hormonal treatment or surgery. There's a widespread assumption that the announcement will be moderated so that current troops are grandfathered in. But who knows?

All TBD!

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World coronavirus updates: World Bank warns economic pain unavoidable

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has caused a "global shock" and significant economic pain "seems unavoidable in all countries," the World Bank said in an economic update for
East Asia and the Pacific on Monday.

The big picture: COVID-19 cases surged past 786,000 and the death toll exceeded 37,800 early Tuesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy reported more than 11,500 total deaths.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 14 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 a.m. ET: 786,228 — Total deaths: 37,820 — Total recoveries: 166,041.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 2 a.m. ET: 164,603 — Total deaths: 3,170— Total recoveries: 5,896.
  3. Federal government latest: The White House will extend its social distancing guidelines until April 30.
  4. State updates: Rural-state governors say testing is still inadequate, contradicting Trump — Virginia, Maryland and D.C. issue stay-at-home orders to residents, joining 28 other states.
  5. Business latest: Ford and General Electric aim to make 50,000 ventilators in 100 days.
  6. In photos: Navy hospital ship arrives in Manhattan.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll tops 3,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. death toll from the novel coronavirus has now surpassed 3,000, per Johns Hopkins data.

The state of play: The U.S. had by Monday night recorded more than 163,000 positive cases — more than any other country in the world, per Johns Hopkins. The COVID-19 death toll stood at 3,008. The number of recoveries had risen to more than 5,800.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health