If Donald Trump wants some of his more controversial policies to actually take shape in Washington—he probably should consider hitting the pause button on Twitter. There are now a catalog of instances where Trump’s directives have been stymied at least in part because of his own words.
On Oct. 30, a US federal judge blocked the Trump administration’s proposed ban on transgender troops in the military, ruling the policy was inherently discriminatory, based on “disapproval of transgender people generally.” In her explanation, judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said she could not permit the ban to move forward in part because of the president’s tweets, which she said undermined the government’s case that the new military policy was about national security.
The president abruptly announced, via Twitter—without any of the formality or deliberative processes that generally accompany the development and announcement of major policy changes that will gravely affect the lives of many Americans—that all transgender individuals would be precluded from participating in the military in any capacity. These circumstances provide additional support for plaintiffs’ claim that the decision to exclude transgender individuals was not driven by genuine concerns regarding military efficacy.”
An Army judge said on Oct. 30 at a hearing in Fort Bragg, North Carolina that the US president’s previous comments on Bowe Bergdahl, the service member who walked off his base in Afghanistan in 2009 and was later captured by the Taliban, could result in a lesser sentence.
On Twitter and during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly called Bergdahl a traitor and deserter, and expressed disdain for the Obama administration’s decision to gain his freedom through a controversial prisoner swap.
Bergdahl faces up life in prison after he pleaded guilty earlier this month to charges of desertion and endangering the troops who were sent to rescue him. “I will consider the president’s comments as mitigation evidence as I arrive at an appropriate sentence,” judge Col. Jeffery R. Nance said, per the New York Times (paywall).
One of Trump’s signature campaign promises included a call for a ban on all Muslims entering the US.
On Twitter, in many a speech going back to 2015, and in a statement on his campaign website (which was later deleted), Trump said he was “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
After his inauguration in January, Trump issued the promised executive order, which would temporarily bar travelers from the Muslim-majority countries of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, and Somalia for 90 days, stop the country’s refugee resettlement program for 120 days, and indefinitely suspend the resettlement of Syrian refugees.
In the rulings staying both proposed travel bans, the judges involved cited the president’s tweets as influencing their decision to rule against him.
“Indeed, the president recently confirmed his assessment that it is the ‘countries’ that are inherently dangerous, rather than the 180 million individual nationals of those countries,” the court wrote in its June opinion.