Just hours after the FBI raided the home of former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort for information into the ever-growing Russia investigation, President Trump took to Twitter to issue a ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, which came as a surprise even to Trump’s top military brass.
Some news outlets now think that those two events could be connected.
On Wednesday, news broke that the FBI conducted a pre-dawn raid on the Virginia home of Paul Manafort seeking financial and other documents. The raid came one day after Manafort had testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and he had been producing documents to investigators. As the Washington Post noted, the raid likely showed that Manafort was not trusted to turn over all records in response to a grand jury subpoena.
As Salon noted, just hours after the raid took place, Donald Trump made the shocking announcement via Twitter that he would be banning transgender individuals from serving in the military. In his tweet, Trump cited the medical costs associated with these individuals, but studies have shown that the total annual costs are only between $2 million and $6 million, less than a fraction of one percent of total health care expenses for service members.
Many noted at the time that Trump’s announcement seemed hurried and out of place, even for a president known for sharing his thoughts on social media with little to no filter. Though Trump’s tweet noted that the decision came at the consultation of top military experts, further reports noted that Trump had not discussed it with anyone.
CNN even reported that the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff were “blindsided” by Trump’s decision and had no idea he was planning to institute a ban — or that he would be announcing it on Twitter. General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, later announced that there would be no change in the current policy until Trump issued an official directive to the Secretary of Defense — which he had not done before announcing the policy change on Twitter.
Later that same day, Trump attacked Hillary Clinton and criticized his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, for failure to go after his former opponent.
This is not the first time that news outlets have suspected Donald Trump of purposely posting controversial statements on Twitter to distract from scandals within his administration. As Republican plans to repeal and replace Obamacare began to unravel in June, the USA Today posited that Trump’s sudden Twitter attacks on Morning Joe host Mike Brzezinski for her alleged face lift was an attempt to distract from the failed health care push.
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