At 8:55am, Donald Trump tweeted the following:
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......
Six trailing periods, sic.
Nine minutes later, he finished the sentence:
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....
There are all sorts of reasons to be furious about these tweets. But one that’s been largely overlooked is that 9-minute gap.
At the Pentagon, the first of the three tweets raised fears that the president was getting ready to announce strikes on North Korea or some other military action. Many said they were left in suspense for nine minutes, the time between the first and second tweet. Only after the second tweet did military officials receive the news the president was announcing a personnel change on Twitter.
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is on vacation this week, and defense officials said Mattis knew that Trump was considering the policy change. It is unclear if he approved it.
Suspecting that Trump was using Twitter to announce military action against North Korea was a perfectly reasonable conclusion by the Pentagon. It also would have been a perfectly reasonable conclusion by North Korea. The policy decision is terrible, the lack of any consultation with the Pentagon is terrible, but the way that it was made, starting with a belligerent tweet without follow-up for nearly 10 minutes, is jaw-droppingly dangerous.