Washington, Nov 25 (IANS) The US President Donald Trump has confirmed that the Pentagon has asked for the resignation of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer over his management of the case of a Navy SEAL who was demoted for misconduct.
In a statement, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said Defence Secretary Mark Esper had requested Spencer’s resignation after ‘losing trust and confidence in him regarding his lack of candor over conversations with the White House involving the handling of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher’.
In July, Gallagher was convicted for illegally posing next to the body of the dead jihadist for photographs during his 2017 deployment in Iraq, and acquitted him of a murder charge for allegedly killing an injured captive.
The case has attracted the attention of Trump, who last week expressed his support for Gallagher and on Sunday night confirmed Spencer had been ‘terminated’.
“Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer’s services have been terminated by Secretary of Defence Mark Esper,” Trump said on Twitter on Sunday night, adding “Eddie will retire peacefully with all of the honoUrs that he has earned, including his Trident Pin.”
The Trident pin is the badge that marks membership to the elite Navy SEALs.
Last week, the New York Times reported that Spencer and Naval Special Warfare Commander Rear Admiral Collin Green had threatened to resign if the Navy complied with Trump’s request to revoke Gallagher’s demotion, although Spencer denied the news.
Trump said Sunday he “was not pleased with the way that Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s trial was handled by the Navy.”
“He was treated very badly but, despite this, was completely exonerated on all major charges. I then restored Eddie’s rank,” Trump added.
In its statement, the Pentagon said that Esper spoke with the “commander-in-Chief” on Friday about the Gallagher case and found out that Spencer had privately proposed to the White House, contrary to his public position, to restore Gallagher’s rank and allow him to retire with the Trident pin.
The Department of Defence spokesman added that recently during a conversation between the two, Spencer never informed Esper of his private proposal to the White House.
In the statement, Esper said he is “deeply troubled by this conduct shown by a senior DOD official.”
“Unfortunately, as a result I have determined that Secretary Spencer no longer has my confidence to continue in his position,” Esper said.
Following recent events, Esper has also ordered that Gallagher retain his Trident pin.
Trump said that “Admiral and now Ambassador to Norway Ken Braithwaite will be nominated by me to be the new Secretary of the Navy.”