Nov 23, 2019

Navy plans to move forward with disciplinary actions against Edward Gallagher

Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher walks out of military court with his wife. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Top military officials have threatened to resign or be fired if President Trump's pardon to Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher holds, administration officials told the New York Times on Saturday.

Why it matters: The pushback from Navy secretary, Richard V. Spencer, and Rear Adm. Collin Green represents a rare moment of defiance from the Defense Department against the Trump administration, the Times notes. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley explained to the president that if he followed up a tweet with a formal order, it would "do untold damage to decades of military justice doctrine," administration officials told the Times.

Background: Gallagher was accused of shooting civilians, murdering an Islamic State fighter in Iraq and threatening to kill the Navy SEALs who reported him, along with other misconduct. The Navy demoted him after he was found guilty of a single charge: bringing discredit to the armed forces by posing for pictures with the teenage captive’s dead body.

Last week, Trump issued full pardons to two Army officials and restored Gallagher's. All had been accused or convicted of war crimes.

  • Trump reversed Gallagher's demotion, and suggested on Thursday that he would intervene again in the case, saying the sailor should remain in the unit.

What to watch: As it stands, the Navy intends to proceed with its disciplinary plans.

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Trump reportedly stands down in fight for Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher

Edward Gallagher walks out of military court with his wife. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

The Navy has been informed that the White House will not intervene to halt the SEALs from removing Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher from their unit, AP reports.

The backstory: Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer and the Navy SEALs' leading admiral Collin Green have threatened to resign or be fired if President Trump stops plans to expel Gallagher, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

Go deeperArrowNov 24, 2019

Navy secretary fired over handling of Eddie Gallagher case

Photo: Alex Edelman/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Mark Esper asked for Navy secretary Richard Spencer's resignation on Sunday after learning about a private proposal Spencer made to the White House involving disgraced Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, a Pentagon spokesperson told the Washington Post.

The big picture: President Trump set off a storm last week when he reversed Gallagher's demotion, which came after he was convicted for posing with the corpse of a dead Islamic State militant in 2017. Trump then tweeted on Thursday that Gallagher should not be removed from the SEALs. According to the Post, Spencer circumvented Esper and privately told the White House that he would ensure Gallagher would be able to retire as a SEAL as long as White House officials did not intervene in the case.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 24, 2019

Esper says Trump ordered him to allow Eddie Gallagher to retire as a SEAL

Mark Esper. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a press conference Monday that President Trump ordered him to allow Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes, to retire with his Trident Pin, AP reports.

The big picture: The decision allows Gallagher, who was demoted after being found guilty of posing in a photo with a corpse of an ISIS fighter, to retire as a SEAL instead of being expelled from the elite unit. His case inflamed relations between Trump and the Navy and led to the firing of Navy secretary Richard Spencer, who disagreed with the president's decision.

Go deeperArrowNov 25, 2019