Defense Secretary Mark Esper called on Navy Secretary Richard Spencer to resign over his handling of the case of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher. Gallagher was acquitted of murdering an ISIS terrorist but was demoted for posing with the dead terrorist’s body in Iraq.
The President restored his rank.
Top SEAL Collin Green is moving ahead with a review of Gallagher and his team to possibly take their Trident Pins. This is despite the President restoring Gallagher’s rank.
The President said he would block any such move, but agreed this weekend to let the review go forward.
Esper asked for Spencer’s resignation after learning that he had proposed privately to White House officials that if they did not interfere with proceedings against Gallagher, then Spencer would ensure that Gallagher would be able to retire as a Navy SEAL, with his Trident insignia.
Spencer’s private proposal to the White House — which he did not share with Esper during the course of several conversations about the matter — contradicted his public position on the Gallagher case, chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.
Esper said in the statement that he was “deeply troubled by this conduct.”
“Unfortunately, as a result, I have determined that Secretary Spencer no longer has my confidence to continue in his position,” Esper said. “I wish Richard well.”
Spencer’s spokeswoman did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Esper and Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, learned of Spencer’s private offer to the White House when they spoke with President Donald Trump on Friday, Hoffman said.
Multiple Navy officials told Fox News that Spencer had threatened to resign if the military branch was not allowed to go through with the administrative review board. Spencer has denied the claim.
Yesterday, we accused the newspapers of lying because that is what they do, but it looks like that might not be the case.
The Navy secretary said Saturday at an international security forum in Canada that he did not consider a tweet by Trump an order and would need a formal order to stop the Navy review board, scheduled to begin Dec. 2.
“I need a formal order to act,” Spencer said. Of Trump’s tweets, “I don’t interpret them as a formal order.”
THE NAVY’S MOTIVATIONS
Gallagher’s lawyers have accused the Navy of trying to remove the SEAL designation in retaliation for Trump’s decision to restore his rank.
Gallagher filed a complaint with the inspector general accusing Rear Adm. Collin Green, the Naval Special Warfare commander, of insubordination for defying Trump’s actions.
Gallagher told Fox & Friends on Sunday that he believed the Navy was acting in retaliation. They could have taken his Trident pin at any time. Why now?
Gallagher said he wanted to be allowed to retire on Nov. 30 “with all the honors that I’ve earned, get back to my family.”
Green also notified three SEAL officers who oversaw Gallagher during the deployment — Lt. Cmdr. Robert Breisch, Lt. Jacob Portier and Lt. Thomas MacNeil — that they are also being reviewed, according to U.S. officials. Removing their Trident pins means they will no longer be SEALs but could remain in the Navy.
Twelve other men were in the photo but only Gallagher and the two men who testified on his behalf are under review.
What a mess.