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.

Go deeper:

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Updated 9 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

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  2. Health: 13 states set single-day case records last week
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  4. Education: The dangerous instability of school re-openings.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events
  6. World: Restrictions grow across Europe.
  7. Media: Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine.

Republicans and Dems react to Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation

President Trump stands with Judge Amy Coney Barrett after she took the constitutional oath to serve as a Supreme Court justice during a White House ceremony Monday night .Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President Trump said Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court and her subsequent taking of the constitutional oath Monday was a "momentous day," as she she vowed to serve "without any fear or favour."

  • But as Republicans applauded the third conservative justice in four years, many Democrats including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) warned of consequences to the rush to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ahead of the Nov. 3 election, with progressives leading calls to expand the court.
Ina Fried, author of Login
51 mins ago - Science

CRISPR pioneer: "Science is on the ballot" in 2020

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

In her three decades in science, Jennifer Doudna said she has seen a gradual erosion of trust in the profession, but the recent Nobel Prize winner told "Axios on HBO" that the institution itself has been under assault from the current administration.

  • "I think science is on the ballot," Doudna said in the interview.

Why it matters: That has manifested itself in everything from how the federal government approaches climate change to the pandemic.

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