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Defense Secretary Mattis halts Trump's transgender ban until this happens

Secretary of Defense James Mattis issued a statement of implementation of President Trump's transgender ban that many believed actually undermined his order. (TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of Defense General Mattis appeared to undermine President Trump's ban on transgender persons in the military in an announcement Tuesday that would allow them to serve.

Mattis said that he would convene a panel of experts from the Department of Defense and Homeland Security. They will study the matter and offer advice on how to implement the ban.

“[I]n the interim," Mattis said, "current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place.”

Mattis added that he would provide the president with appropriate guidance, “including any necessary interim adjustments to procedures, to ensure the continued combat readiness of the force until our final policy on this subject is issued.”

Trump started a firestorm of criticism when he issued three tweets in July ordering the ban on transgender members of the military.

"[P]lease be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," he wrote.

"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," he added.

Trump added some clarification to the tweets weeks later when he added that the military would not be paying for sex reassignment surgery for military members, and that no more transgender members would be allowed into the military.

Mattis' announcement appears to undermine that order by allowing transgender persons in the military until after his panel of experts provides their guidance to him and the president.

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