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!

Go deeper

Trump commutes Roger Stone's sentence

Roger Stone arriving at his sentencing hearing on Feb. 20. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump on Friday evening commuted the sentence of his longtime associate Roger Stone, according to two senior administration officials. Stone in February was sentenced to 40 months in prison for crimes including obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress.

Why it matters: The controversial move brings an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars. He had been scheduled to report to prison on July 14.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

Which states have set single-day coronavirus records this week

Data: COVID Tracking Project and state health department data compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti and Naema Ahmed/Axios

13 states this week surpassed records set just last week for their highest number of coronavirus infections in a single day, according to the COVID Tracking Project and state health department data. 16 states in total reported new highs.

The big picture: The United States' alarming rise in coronavirus cases isn't just due to increased testing — particularly where the number of cases has grown fastest over the last month, Axios' Andrew Witherspoon and Caitlin Owens report.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 p.m. ET: 12,389,660 — Total deaths: 557,279 — Total recoveries — 6,830,596Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 p.m. ET: 3,169,611 — Total deaths: 133,885 — Total recoveries: 983,185 — Total tested: 38,856,341Map.
  3. Public health: The reality of the coronavirus bites.
  4. Trade: Trump says he's no longer considering phase-two trade deal with China because the pandemic damaged the two countries' relationship.
  5. 🎧 Podcast: Rural America has its own coronavirus problem.