AP – Defense Secretary Mark Esper forced out Richard Spencer, the secretary of the Navy, over his handling of a Navy SEAL whose demotion for a war crimes charge had sparked objection from President Donald Trump. Esper asked for Spencer’s resignation “after losing trust and confidence in him regarding his lack of candor” because he failed to tell Esper of a “private proposal” he made to the White House that would have allowed Navy Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher to keep his rank and SEAL status, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.
“I am deeply troubled by this conduct shown by a senior DOD official,” Esper said. “Unfortunately, as a result, I have determined that Secretary Spencer no longer has my confidence to continue in his position. I wish Richard well.”
In a letter submitted Sunday, Spencer did not say he resigned and instead wrote, “I hereby acknowledge my termination.”Spencer did not address Esper’s charge of going over his head but said it had been “the extreme honor of a lifetime to stand alongside the men and women of the Navy and Marine Corps.”
He said his departure was due to the fact that he and Trump “no longer share the same understanding” of the importance of military justice.
On Nov. 15, Trump reversed the demotion of Gallagher, who had been acquitted of stabbing an Islamic State prisoner and killing Iraqi civilians, but was convicted of posing with for a photo with a corpse.
The following week, the Navy announced it would review Gallagher’s status as a SEAL, which could have led to him losing his “Trident,” the symbol of membership in the elite group of special operations troops. In a tweet at the time, Trump indicated he did not want the review to take place and stated, “The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin.”