Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer has resigned after officials learned of a private proposal regarding the case of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, who was accused of war crimes in Iraq.
According to The Washington Post, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper asked for Spencer’s resignation on Sunday, saying he was ‘deeply troubled by this conduct’.
The alleged private proposal consisted of Spencer requesting White House officials to not interfere with the proceedings against Gallagher, who was convicted by a military jury in July of illegally posing for pictures with the corpse of an Islamic State fighter in Iraq in 2017.
If the White House officials agreed, then Spencer would ensure that Gallagher was able to retire as a Navy SEAL.
Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer (left) has resigned after officials learned of a private proposal regarding the case of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, who was accused of war crimes in Iraq. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper (right) asked for Spencer’s resignation on Sunday
The alleged private proposal consisted of Spencer requesting White House officials to not interfere with the proceedings against Gallagher (center), who was acquitted of premeditated murder in July after being accused of killing a wounded Islamic State captive in Iraq in 2017
Spencer reportedly did not share information regarding the proposal with Esper, despite having multiple conversations about it.
Upon learning of the private proposal, Esper called for Spencer’s resignation.
‘Unfortunately, as a result I have determined that Secretary Spencer no longer has my confidence to continue in his position,’ Esper said in a statement. ‘I wish Richard well.’
Earlier on Sunday, it was revealed that President Donald Trump will not intervene to stop the Navy review that could see Gallagher’s removal from the elite unit after publicly ordering officials to shut down the disciplinary proceeding.
A senior official said that the White House had given the green light to proceed with the review as planned on Friday, the day after Trump tweeted that the Navy ‘will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin’.
The Navy responded to the president’s tweet by saying that it would be awaiting further guidance, and Spencer remarked that he did not consider the tweet to be a formal order.
Spencer and SEAL commander Rear Admiral Collin Green both reportedly threatened to resign if Trump halted the review.
Trump’s apparent about-face came just as Gallagher, who was demoted in rank after he was convicted in July of a war crime for posing with a corpse, appeared on Fox & Friends Sunday morning and praised the president for his continued support.
‘I don’t know how many times I can thank the president. He keeps stepping in and doing the right thing,’ he said.
‘I just want to let him know that the rest of the SEAL community is not about this right now. They all respect the president.’
Gallagher claimed the move to revoke his SEAL status was ‘retaliation’ for Trump’s public bid to restore his rank the week prior and accused Navy top brass of ‘insubordination’.
‘This is all about ego and retaliation. This has nothing to do with good order and discipline,’ Gallagher told Fox & Friends.
‘They could have taken my Trident at any time they wanted now trying to take it after president restored my rank.’
‘I just want to retire peacefully with all the honors that I have earned. Get back to my family,’ he added, noting that he hopes to retire by November 30.
Gallagher was acquitted him of murder in the detainee’s death, and he was sentenced to a demotion in rank and pay grade, but not prison time.
Trump intervened in the case last week, ordering the Navy to restore Gallagher’s rank and pay and clearing the way for him to retire on a full pension.
But Navy brass notified Gallagher this week that a five-member panel of fellow Navy commandos would convene next month to review his case and recommend whether he is fit to remain in the SEALs.
Gallagher filed a complaint with the inspector general accusing Rear Adm Collin Green – the Naval Special Warfare commander – of insubordination for defying Trump’s actions.
Trump lashed out at the review on Twitter, insisting that the Navy would not be taking away Gallagher’s Trident pin, which designates him a member of the elite force.
The Navy responded with a statement saying it would follow ‘lawful orders’ from the president to halt the review but was awaiting further guidance, suggesting his Twitter post was not considered a formal directive.