Nov 26, 2019

Ousted Navy Secretary Richard Spencer hits back at Trump on CBS

Ousted Navy Secretary Richard Spencer told CBS News Monday that President Trump’s intervention in a case involving disgraced Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher sends the message "that you can get away with things."

Details: In his first TV interview since he was fired Sunday for his handling of Gallagher's case, Spencer told CBS journalist David Martin that Trump shouldn't have tried to stop the Pentagon review of the Navy SEAL's case and that he doesn't think he "really understands the full definition of a war fighter."

  • "A war fighter is a profession of arms, and a profession of arms has standards that they have to be held to, and they hold themselves to," Spencer said.

He also defended his conduct as Navy secretary.

SPENCER: Well, what do I stand for as secretary of the Navy? Good order and discipline of the United States Navy. That's a prime tenet. This, in fact, erodes that. 
MARTIN: What's wrong with following a lawful order from the commander in chief? 
SPENCER: Nothing. Everyone should follow a lawful order. That's good order and discipline. I could not in my conscience do this. 

The big picture: Gallagher was acquitted of a murder charge in the stabbing death of an Islamic State militant captive, but a military jury convicted him of posing with the corpse while in Iraq in 2017. Spencer was advocating for a peer-to-peer review process that could have stripped Gallagher of his Trident Pin, which designates him as a Navy SEAL.

  • Trump tweeted Thursday: "The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin. This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!"
  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper said during a press conference earlier Monday that the president ordered him to allow Gallagher to retire with his Trident. This allows the chief petty officer to retire as a SEAL instead of being expelled from the elite unit.

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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

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

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