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Thomas Modly. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned Tuesday after apologizing for comments he made about Capt. Brett Crozier, who was removed when a letter he wrote pleading with the Navy to address the coronavirus outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt was leaked to the press. The resignation was first reported by Politico.

Why it matters: The controversy over Crozier's removal was exacerbated after audio leaked of Modly's address to the crew, in which he said Crozier was either "too naive or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this." After initially backing Modly's decision, President Trump said at a briefing Monday that he would "get involved."

Timeline:

  • March 30: In a letter to senior Navy officials, Crozier says that with "inherent limitations of space" on the aircraft carrier, it's nearly impossible to social distance with a crew of more 4,000 and follow quarantine guidelines to stay docked for 14 days.
  • March 31: The San Francisco Chronicle publishes the letter. Modly tells CNN that the Navy is working to evacuate the ship.
  • April 2: Modly announces in a press conference that Crozier has been relieved for acting outside his chain of command and "unnecessarily" raising alarm with the family members of the crew.
  • April 4: Trump backs Modly's decision to remove Crozier, saying at a press conference: "I thought it was terrible, what he did, to write a letter. I mean, this isn’t a class on literature. This is a captain of a massive ship that’s nuclear powered."
  • April 5: Crozier himself tests positive for the coronavirus.
  • April 6: Modly flies to Guam and speaks to the crew of the ship over the loudspeaker, calling Crozier's letter a "betrayal of trust." The audio of the speech is leaked. Modly issues a statement saying, “I stand by every word I said, even, regrettably, some profanity that may have been used for emphasis.” He later apologizes under pressure from Defense Department leadership.
  • April 7: Amid calls for his removal, Modly offers to resign.

What they're saying: Defense Secretary Mark Esper issued a statement Tuesday affirming that he had accepted Modly's resignation and appointed Undersecretary of the Army James McPherson as his replacement.

"[Modly] resigned on his own accord, putting the Navy and the Sailors above self so that the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, and the Navy as an institution, can move forward. His care for the Sailors was genuine. Secretary Modly served the nation for many years, both in and out of uniform. I have the deepest respect for anyone who serves our country, and who places the greater good above all else. Secretary Modly did that today, and I wish him all the best."
— Mark Esper

Just before resigning, Modley apologized to the Department of the Navy in an internal memo obtained by Task & Purpose, writing: "I brought incoming fire onto our team and I am convinced that the fire will continue unrelentingly until the target is gone."

  • "The crew deserved a lot more empathy and a lot less lecturing," he continued. "I lost sight of that at the time and I am deeply sorry for some of the words and for how they were spread across the media landscape like a wildfire."
  • "I had hoped to transmit a message of love, and duty, and mission, and courage in the face of adversity. Those words are in there, but they are now lost, because of me, and I will regret that for the rest of my life."

Go deeper

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will not seek re-election in 2022

Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) speaking during a press conference in November 2021. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), a moderate who typically ranks as one of the nation's most popular governors, said Wednesday that he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito (R) will not seek third terms in 2022.

Why it matters: The decision leaves the gubernatorial race wide open and will likely affect multiple down-ballot races next year. Baker was expected to be the front-runner had he joined the race.

3 hours ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.