Pentagon Chief Fires Navy Secretary Over SEAL Case
(Source: Voice of America News; issued NOV 24, 2019)
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has asked Navy Secretary Richard Spencer to resign, citing his handling of the case of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq.

Esper asked for the resignation Sunday and Spencer submitted it, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said.

The request involved the case of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was accused of war crimes committed during his deployment to Iraq in 2017. He was acquitted of the more serious charges of murder but found guilty of posing with the body of a teenaged Islamic State militant. As a result, Gallagher was demoted.

But U.S. President Donald Trump intervened in the case and pardoned him and restored his rank and pay.


When Trump learned last week that the Navy planned to bring Gallagher before a review board to determine if he could continue to wear the Trident Pin, which signifies membership in the elite commando unit, he intervened again.

Trump tweeted: “The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin. This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!

The Pentagon said Esper asked for Spencer's resignation after learning that the secretary had privately proposed to White House officials that if they stopped meddling in the Gallagher case, Spencer would make sure that Gallagher would be able to resign as a Navy SEAL. The Washington Post first reported this story.

That information was not disclosed to Esper during conversations he had with Spencer, Hoffman said.

“Unfortunately, as a result, I have determined that Secretary Spencer no longer has my confidence to continue in his position,” Esper said in a statement released Sunday.

Esper has told the president to consider Kenneth Braithwaite, current U.S. ambassador to Norway and a retired Navy rear admiral, as the next secretary of the Navy, Hoffman said.

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Statement by DOD Spokesman Jonathan Hoffman
(Source: US Department of Defense; issued Nov. 24, 2019)
"Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper has asked for the resignation of Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer after losing trust and confidence in him regarding his lack of candor over conversations with the White House involving the handling of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher.

After Secretary Esper and Chairman Milley spoke with the Commander in Chief on Friday regarding the case of Gallagher, Secretary Esper learned that Secretary Spencer had previously and privately proposed to the White House - contrary to Spencer's public position - to restore Gallagher's rank and allow him to retire with his Trident pin. When recently asked by Secretary Esper, Secretary Spencer confirmed that despite multiple conversations on the Gallagher matter, Secretary Esper was never informed by Secretary Spencer of his private proposal.

Secretary Esper's position with regard to UCMJ, disciplinary, and fitness for duty actions has always been that the process should be allowed to play itself out objectively and deliberately, in fairness to all parties. However, at this point, given the events of the last few days, Secretary Esper has directed that Gallagher retain his Trident pin. Secretary Esper will meet with Navy Under Secretary (now Acting Secretary) Thomas Modley and the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday on Monday morning to discuss the way ahead.

"I am deeply troubled by this conduct shown by a senior DOD official." said Secretary Esper. "Unfortunately, as a result I have determined that Secretary Spencer no longer has my confidence to continue in his position. I wish Richard well."

Secretary Esper has proposed to the President that Ambassador Kenneth Braithwaite, current U.S. Ambassador to Norway and a retired Navy Rear Admiral, be considered as the next Secretary of the Navy."

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