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A general view shows the flight deck on board the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. Photo: Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images

A group of Democratic senators asked the office of the Department of Defense Inspector General on Friday to investigate the U.S. Navy's response to the coronavirus outbreak aboard the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt and the firing of its captain.

Why it matters: The Pentagon's decision to relieve Capt. Brett Crozier of the nuclear aircraft carrier on Thursday sparked criticism from politicians and others. Later, videos were posted of his crew cheering him on as he was leaving his post.

The big picture: The letter indicated that Crozier's firing led lawmakers, including Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Van Hollen, to question whether the Navy's precautionary measures protect U.S. fleets from the coronavirus.

  • "It is also difficult to understand how CAPT Crozier’s decision to copy '20 or 30 people' on an email to his chain of command necessarily constitutes a breach warranting relief of command," a reversal from what the acting secretary of the Navy previously said, the letter states.

What they're saying:

  • When asked during a White House press briefing if Crozier's firing was punishment for calling attention to the crew’s lack of resources with COVID-19 cases onboard: “I don’t agree with that at all. Not even a little bit.”
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted Friday: "Captain Crozier was faithful to his duty—both to his sailors and his country. Navy leadership sent a chilling message about speaking truth to power. The poor judgment here belongs to the Trump Admin, not a courageous officer trying to protect his sailors."
  • Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) tweeted Thursday: "I learned on my first day in the Marines that having the courage to speak truth to power is grounds for respect not grounds for relief. This is far from the first time in the last several years that Congress is going to have a lot of questions for Navy leadership—on leadership."

The Pentagon did not respond to Axios' request for comment.

Read letter:

Go deeper

COVID cases fall by 20%

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The number of new COVID-19 cases continues to plummet all across the U.S.

By the numbers: The U.S. is now averaging roughly 70,000 new cases per day, a 20% drop over the past two weeks.

2 hours ago - World

Taiwan leader confirms U.S. troops on island training forces

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei earlier this month. Photo: I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen told CNN Thursday that a small number of American troops are on the island for training purposes and she has "faith" the U.S. would defend the democracy against a Chinese military attack.

Why it matters: This is the first time a Taiwanese leader has publicly acknowledged the presence of U.S. troops on the self-governing island since the last U.S. garrison left in 1979, when Washington switched formal diplomatic recognition to Beijing.

Updated 5 hours ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.