Overnight Defense: Judge says Trump can't implement transgender policy | Trump floats admitting Brazil to NATO | Mattis returning to Stanford

Overnight Defense: Judge says Trump can't implement transgender policy | Trump floats admitting Brazil to NATO | Mattis returning to Stanford
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Happy Tuesday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Ellen Mitchell, 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: A federal judge on Wednesday affirmed her injunction preventing President Trump's transgender military policy from taking effect remains in place days after the Pentagon released a memo to implement the policy.

In a three-page order, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia wrote that "defendants were incorrect in claiming that there was no longer an impediment to the military's implementation of the [transgender policy] in this case."

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Asked whether the order will affect plans to implement the policy April 12, a Pentagon spokeswoman said the department is "consulting with the Department of Justice on next steps."

The background: Last week, acting Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist signed a memo implementing a policy that would ban most transgender people from serving in the military. The memo makes the policy effective April 12.

The memo came roughly a week after a federal court ruled to lift the last of the injunctions preventing Trump's policy from taking effect.

A federal judge in Maryland ruled he had no choice but to the lift the injunction after the Supreme Court in February ruled 5-4 to lift two other injunctions.

But advocates for transgender troops and the Trump administration continued to fight over whether a fourth injunction remained in place despite the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia's ruling to lift it. 

The plaintiffs in that lawsuit argued the injunction still holds until they decide whether they want a rehearing in front of the appeal court's full bench. The deadline for them to decide is March 29.

What's in this court order: In Tuesday's court order, Kollar-Kotelly agreed, saying the D.C. Circuit Court's judgment is not final until it issues a mandate after the deadline passes.

"On October 30, 2017, this court ordered defendants to maintain the status quo as it relates to the accession and retention of transgender individuals in the military. That preliminary injunction remains in place until the D.C. Circuit issues its mandate vacating the preliminary injunction," she wrote. "Lacking a mandate, defendants remain bound by this court's preliminary injunction to maintain the status quo."

 

TRUMP FLOATS ADMITTING BRAZIL TO NATO ALLIANCE: Trump said Tuesday he plans to designate Brazil as a major non-NATO ally and raised the possibility that the South American nation could eventually join the NATO alliance.

Trump announced his intention to upgrade the status of the relationship between the U.S. and Brazil during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden alongside Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. 

Trump said he would make Brazil "a major non-NATO ally or even possibly, if you start thinking about it, maybe a NATO ally." He acknowledged he would have to talk to "a lot of people" about admitting Brazil to the group.

How that would work: NATO would have to invite Brazil to join. Currently, the only Latin American nation affiliated with NATO is Colombia, which became one of the alliance's "global partners," meaning it would not necessarily have to engage in military action.

Trump has criticized NATO in the past over disproportionate burden sharing.

In the meantime, Brazil will receive major non-NATO ally status. Trump said the designation will "greatly advance security and cooperation between our countries."

Who else is a non-NATO ally: Sixteen other countries have major non-NATO ally status, including South Korea, Australia, Argentina and Kuwait. The designation makes it easier for those countries to purchase U.S. weapons and collaborate on other security issues.

 

MATTIS GOES BACK TO STANFORD: Former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisNew 2020 candidate Moulton on hypothetical Mars invasion: 'I would not build a wall' Trump learns to love acting officials Shanahan says he's 'never favored' Boeing as acting Defense chief MORE, who resigned from the Pentagon's top post in December, is returning to the job he had before joining the Trump administration, Stanford University's Hoover Institution announced Tuesday.

Mattis will start May 1 as the Davies Family distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution.

"I have long relied on the work of Hoover to supplement my understanding of the critical challenges facing our country and to help guide tough decisions," Mattis said in a statement Tuesday. "I believe we have an obligation to pass on the lessons we've learned so that future generations can study, learn and become better. Hoover has made this part of its mission, and I look forward to returning."

What made him leave administration: Mattis resigned as Defense secretary after President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 MORE announced he would withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria.

In his resignation letter, Mattis made clear he was leaving because his views did not "align" with Trump's on the value of alliances such as NATO and the coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and on standing firm against U.S. adversaries such as Russia and China.

His resignation prompted a wave of concern on Capitol Hill and elsewhere about the direction of Trump's defense policies without one of the so-called adults in the room.

The Trump administration has since reversed course on a full Syria withdrawal, saying about 400 U.S. troops will remain in the country.

He's been here before: Mattis, a retired four-star general who led U.S. Central Command, worked at the Hoover Institution from 2013 until his confirmation as Defense secretary in January 2017.

What he'll do now: Upon returning to the Hoover Institution, Mattis will focus his work on "domestic and international security policy," according to Tuesday's announcement.

He also will participate in events and programs related to military and national security policy both at Stanford's California campus and at the Hoover Institution's D.C. office.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

Under Secretary of Defense for research and engineering Michael Griffin and other senior defense officials will speak at Booz Allen Hamilton's Directed Energy Summit beginning at 8 a.m. at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. 

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanKim to meet with Putin as tensions with US rise GOP Armed Services chair 'no longer concerned' about training for border troops The Mueller report is a deterrent to government service MORE, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics Will Roper, and House Armed Services strategic forces subpanel Chair Jim CooperJames (Jim) Hayes Shofner CooperTop Armed Services Republican: 'I don't think anybody is satisfied' with Space Force proposal Bipartisan group asks DHS, ICE to halt deportations of Iraqi nationals Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief under investigation over Boeing ties | Trump uses visual aids to tout progress against ISIS | Pentagon, Amnesty International spar over civilian drone deaths MORE (D-Tenn.), will speak at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event on the fiscal 2020 budget and policy beginning at 8:30 a.m. in Washington, D.C. 

Deputy assistant director of the CIA's East Asia and Pacific Mission Center Michael Collins at 5 p.m. will speak on China's rise at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington, D.C. 

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: US, Russia hold talks on situation in Venezuela

-- The Hill: Senate Dems petition Saudi king to release dissidents, US citizen

-- The Hill: US-backed fighters capture ISIS militants suspected of killing American troops

-- The Hill: Nielsen calls for greater public-private collaboration on cyber threats

-- The Hill: Opinion: Whatever happened to nuclear abolition?

-- The Hill: Opinion: Space diplomacy: A better way to combat China's challenge

-- Defense News: The US Navy, facing a shortfall, aims to ink an enormous attack sub contract next month

-- Reuters: U.S. says Iran missile program destabilizing Middle East