Two of the United States’ top naval officers threatened to resign or be fired if President Donald Trump tries to prevent the expulsion of Chief Petty Officer Edward “Eddie” Gallagher from the elite Navy SEAL unit of the military branch, according to a Saturday report from the New York Times.
Gallagher was charged with multiple war crimes, including shooting unarmed civilians and murdering a prisoner of war, but after a controversial court martial, during which President Trump repeatedly voiced strong support for acquittal, Gallagher was only convicted of posing for pictures with the corpse of a dead ISIS prisoner.
As Law&Crime previously reported, Trump’s support for the accused war criminal did not stop after his acquittal. After Gallagher was demoted due to his conviction for ”bringing discredit to the armed forces” by posing for the aforementioned photographs, President Trump unilaterally reversed the decision via a presidential Twitter proclamation.
“The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin,” President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday morning. “This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!”
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!
However, it appears U.S. Navy secretary, Richard V. Spencer and Rear Adm. Collin Green will not allow the President’s military justice power-grab to stand on their watch, with each threatening to resign or force the administration to terminate them should Gallagher remain a Navy SEAL.
In response, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have reportedly told Trump that his tweet does not constitute the formal presidential order required to reverse Gallagher’s demotion and warned that overruling Spencer and Green could have significant repercussions.
“Mr. Esper and General Milley conveyed to the president that if he followed up that tweet with a direct order, there would be huge consequences: Mr. Trump would lose Mr. Spencer and Admiral Green, further infuriate his top military leadership and do untold damage to decades of military justice doctrine,” the Times report stated.
Responding to questions at a security forum in Nova Scotia on Saturday, Spencer denied any reports that he had threatened to resign.
“Contrary to popular belief, I am still here,” he said. “I did not threaten to resign. But let us just say we are here to talk about external threats, and Eddie Gallagher is not one of them.”
The Times, however, stands by its reporting.
[image via SAUL LOEB and AFP and Getty Images]