President Donald Trump released a statement on Sunday about the firing of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer over the way he handled the case of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, saying that Spencer was terminated because matters “were not addressed” to the president’s satisfaction.
“I was not pleased with the way that Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s trial was handled by the Navy. He was treated very badly but, despite this, was completely exonerated on all major charges,” Trump tweeted. “I then restored Eddie’s rank. Likewise, large cost overruns from past administration’s contracting procedures were not addressed to my satisfaction. Therefore, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer’s services have been terminated by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. I thank Richard for his service & commitment.”
“Eddie will retire peacefully with all of the honors that he has earned, including his Trident Pin. Admiral and now Ambassador to Norway Ken Braithwaite will be nominated by me to be the new Secretary of the Navy,” Trump continued. “A man of great achievement and success, I know Ken will do an outstanding job!”
Gallagher was “acquitted of charges earlier this year accusing him of shooting civilians, murdering a captive ISIS terrorist, and threatening Navy SEALs who reported him,” The Daily Wire reported.
However, Gallagher “was convicted of one charge: bringing discredit to the armed forces by posing for photos with the teenage captive’s dead body,” The New York Times reported. “Last Friday, Mr. Trump reversed that demotion, angering Navy officials, including the commander of the SEALs, Rear Adm. Collin Green, who had little choice but to accept the reversal. Nonetheless, they continued with their plans to eject Chief Gallagher from the unit.”
Spencer went around the back of Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper to privately talk to White House officials, to whom he proposed “that if they did not interfere with proceedings against Gallagher, then Spencer would ensure that Gallagher was able to retire as a Navy SEAL, with his Trident insignia,” The Washington Post reported.
When Esper found out about Spencer’s actions, he demanded his immediate resignation, which he received.
The U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement: “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,” the statement continued. “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.”
In a statement, Esper said, “I am deeply troubled by this conduct shown by a senior DOD official. Unfortunately, as a result I have determined that Secretary Spencer no longer has my confidence to continue in his position. I wish Richard well.”