Overnight Defense: Appeals court sides with Trump on transgender military ban | Trump threatens years-long shutdown | Trump floats declaring national emergency to build wall with military

Happy Friday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Rebecca Kheel, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.

 

THE TOPLINE: The Trump administration got a win Friday in the ongoing legal saga over its transgender military ban.

But the policy still can't go into effect right now.

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The win came at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where a three-judge panel overturned a lower court's injunction on the policy.

But several other courts have also issued injunctions against the ban, which is why it still can't take effect.

What the court said: The appeals court panel ruled that District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly made a "clear error" in deciding that the injunction should stay in place because a plan from former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump learns to love acting officials Shanahan says he's 'never favored' Boeing as acting Defense chief Trump moves to install loyalists MORE was no different from President TrumpDonald John TrumpThorny part of obstruction of justice is proving intent, that's a job for Congress Obama condemns attacks in Sri Lanka as 'an attack on humanity' Schiff rips Conway's 'display of alternative facts' on Russian election interference MORE's policy.

Mattis' March 2018 plan would allow transgender people to serve if they do so in their biological sex.

The appeals court said Mattis' plan was not "foreordained" by Trump because it took into account a panel of military and medical experts, evidence from the implementation of the open service policy and "a reassessment of the priorities of the group that produced" the open service policy.

The appeals court also agreed with the administration that the Mattis plan is not a blanket ban.

"Although the Mattis plan continues to bar many transgender persons from joining or serving in the military, the record indicates that the plan allows some transgender persons barred under the military's standards prior to the [open service policy] to join and serve in the military," the judges wrote.

More to come: The appeals court didn't rule on the merits of the case, just the injunction. So the underlying case still has to be decided by the district court.

And the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), vowed to keep fighting.

"Today's ruling is a devastating slap in the face to transgender service members who have proved their fitness to serve and their dedication to this country," NCLR legal director Shannon Minter said in a statement. "We will keep fighting this cruel and irrational policy, which serves no purpose other than to weaken the military and punish transgender service members for their patriotism and service."

The Trump administration has also already asked the Supreme Court to leapfrog regular judicial order and immediately take up the case. The high court has yet to decide whether it will do so.

 

SHUTDOWN DAY 14: Another White House meeting appears to have done little to end the partial government shutdown.

And now President Trump is threatening to keep about 25 percent of the federal government closed for years until he gets his desired funding to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

He made the remark during a closed-door meeting at the White House with congressional leaders on the 14th day of a partial government shutdown.

Trump confirmed after the meeting that he "absolutely" said the shutdown could last more than a year, as first noted by Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars Dem legal analyst says media 'overplayed' hand in Mueller coverage Former FBI official praises Barr for 'professional' press conference MORE (N.Y.) who was at the meeting.

The president added that he didn't think it would last that long, saying Democrats want to make a deal.

An emergency?: Trump has said multiple times before he wants to use the military to build the wall if Congress won't appropriate funding for it.

The problem with that is that Congress also needs to sign off on reprogramming funding for a purpose other than what it was originally approved for.

Trump now apparently thinks he can get around that if he officially declares a national emergency at the border.

ABC News first reported Trump was considering the strategy. Trump later told reporters in the Rose Garden that was the case.

"We can call a national emergency because of the security of our country, absolutely. We can do it. I haven't done it, I may do it. I may do it, but we can call a national emergency and build it quickly, it's another way of doing it," he said at a press conference.

"If we can do it through a negotiated process, we're giving that a shot," he added.

U.S. law allows for military construction projects in the event of a national emergency. But Trump could face political resistance for using military funding for the wall.

 

COMMITTEE SHUFFLE: With the 116th Congress sworn in, the makeup of the Armed Services committees is solidifying.

On Friday, Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithTrump team spurns Adam Smith with its trade stance Top Armed Services Republican: 'I don't think anybody is satisfied' with Space Force proposal Overnight Defense: House votes to condemn transgender military ban | 5 Republicans vote against ban | Senate bill would block Turkey getting F-35s over Russia deal MORE (D-Wash.) announced that he has been officially chosen to serve as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee by the House Democratic Conference.

The news was expected since Smith was the panel's ranking member when Democrats were in the minority. Friday's announcement just makes it official.

"This is an extremely challenging time for our country and the world. We are in dire need of oversight from Congress and principled, coherent thinking on U.S. national defense strategy," Smith said in a statement.

"As chairman, I will work with my colleagues to promote transparency and congressional oversight, enhance military readiness, combat inefficiency and waste at DOD, advance green technology in defense and address the threat climate change poses to our national security, fight for an inclusive military, and move towards a responsible approach to nuclear weapons."

Smith also pledged to continue the committee's "long track record" of bipartisanship and work with now-ranking member Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryOvernight Defense: Air Force general tapped for Pentagon No. 2 | Dem presses Trump officials on Yemen strike | Pentagon details 4M border deployment cost Top Armed Services Republican: 'I don't think anybody is satisfied' with Space Force proposal Top senators warn Turkey: Choose between Russia missile system or US fighter jet MORE (R-Texas).

In the Senate: On Thursday evening, Senate Republicans announced their committee assignments, which are expected to be ratified next week by the Republican Conference and full Senate.

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The Senate Armed Services Committee is getting five new Republican members: Sens. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerCain says he 'won't run away from criticism' in push for Fed seat Cain says he won't back down, wants to be nominated to Fed Conservatives urge Trump to stick with Moore for Fed MORE (N.D.) Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallySenate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller Trump gives nod to vulnerable GOP Sen. McSally with bill signing Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 MORE (Ariz.), Rick Scott (Fla.), Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnConservative groups defend tech from GOP crackdown Lawmakers weigh challenges in fighting robocalls Senators show deep skepticism on Space Force proposal MORE (Tenn.) and Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyHillicon Valley: Mueller report coming Thursday | YouTube adds 9/11 info to Notre Dame fire video | New details on case against Assange | Thousands sign petition to ban Trump on social media | Conservatives side with big tech in GOP fight Conservative groups defend tech from GOP crackdown Pelosi puts tech on notice with warning of 'new era' in regulation MORE (Mo.).

They replace Republican Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzMichael Bennet declared cancer-free, paving way for possible 2020 run Booker, Harris have missed most Senate votes O'Rourke sweeps through Virginia looking to energize campaign MORE (Texas), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars DOJ: Dem subpoena for Mueller report is 'premature and unnecessary' Dems reject Barr's offer to view Mueller report with fewer redactions MORE (S.C.), Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseSenate needs to stand up to Trump's Nixonian view of the Fed GOP senators divided on Trump trade pushback The Hill's 12:30 Report: Assange faces US charges after dramatic arrest MORE (Neb.) and Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottGOP senators dismiss Booker reparations proposal On The Money — Presented by Job Creators Network — GOP senators urge Trump not to nominate Cain | Treasury expected to miss Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Party divisions force Dems to scrap budget vote | House passes IRS reform bill GOP senators urge Trump not to pick Cain for Fed MORE (S.C.) and former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

Graham and Cruz, though, won't be far removed national security issues. They're both joining the Foreign Relations Committee, which will also include new Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGiuliani: 'Nothing wrong' with campaign taking information from Russians Earth Day founder's daughter: Most Republican leaders believe in climate change in private Senate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller MORE (R-Utah).

 

ON TAP FOR MONDAY

The Brookings Institution will host an expert panel on the New START Treaty at 2 p.m. https://brook.gs/2CLAnO7

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: Senate poised to rebut Trump on Syria

-- The Hill: DHS requesting more troops at border: report

-- The Hill: Bipartisan bill proposes new White House office to fight Chinese technology threats

-- Military Times: As shutdown continues, lawmakers look for fix on Coast Guard pay

-- Associated Press: US says airstrike targeted militant tied to USS Cole bombing

-- Bloomberg: Top Trump aides rush to reassure U.S. allies in Middle East