Mattis: Trump policies banning transgender troops 'stand on their own'

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon chiefs to Congress: Don't default Pentagon chiefs say debt default could risk national security MORE on Monday said that President TrumpDonald TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event MORE's recently issued policies barring most transgender individuals from the military “stand on their own.”

Speaking to reporters prior to meeting with the Indonesia Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi, Mattis said the military is “out to build the most lethal service.”

He declined to comment further, as the policies are under litigation.

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“I think the statements stand on their own right now, and I don't need to waste our guests time reiterating what's already down,” Mattis said.

The White House issued a memorandum late Friday stating that transgender people are “disqualified from military service except under limited circumstances.”

The memo — filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle — follows up on a series of tweets by Trump over the summer in which the president called for a ban on all transgender people from the military. The White House in August issued a memo banning transgender people from enlisting.

Multiple lawsuits have been brought against the ban, and Mattis was expected to recommend that Trump allow transgender troops to remain in the military.

But the White House statement noted that Mattis concluded the ban "should be adopted.” He will, however, have some leeway in implementing the policy.

Friday’s statement drew swift criticism from LGBT advocate groups and lawmakers, including House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithFacebook's the latest example that we must rewrite laws on corporate harm Overnight Defense & National Security — US attempts to mend ties with France Pentagon requires COVID-19 vaccines for civilian employees by Nov. 22 MORE (D-Wash.), who called the decision “vicious, inhumane, and utterly wrong.”

“By issuing this decision, President Trump has engaged in an act of pure discrimination against people who sacrifice every day to serve their country — and who have been doing so for years,” Smith said in a statement Friday. “I condemn this decision and will continue to fight it with all of my abilities.”