President Trump has revealed that Navy Secretary Richard Spencer’s firing was a long time coming and part of an effort to protect “war fighters” in the armed forces.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was asked to resign following the handling of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher’s case.
Gallagher, who was accused then acquitted of war crimes, recently had his rank restored by President Trump.
Yahoo reports President Trump defended the firing of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer on Monday, suggesting the ouster was a long time coming and was part of an effort to “protect” members of the armed forces.
“We’ve been thinking about that for a long time. That didn’t just happen,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office as he met with the prime minister of Bulgaria. “I have to protect my warfighters.”
Spencer’s forced departure came amid a controversy over Trump’s decision to issue pardons in three cases where service members were accused of war crimes. One of those service members is Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher, a member of the elite Navy SEALs, who was accused of murdering an unarmed Iraqi teenager in 2017. Gallagher was ultimately convicted of a lesser charge involving posing with the dead body, but Trump reversed the officer’s demotion earlier this month.
In the wake of the president’s intervention, some Navy officials still sought to discipline Gallagher, including potentially stripping him of the trident pin that signifies SEAL status. On Nov. 21, Trump announced on Twitter that he would not permit the Navy to take Gallagher’s pin.
In public comments, Spencer had indicated he supported a review of Gallagher’s conduct. According to CNN, Spencer was working “behind the scenes” with the White House on a deal that would allow the review to be conducted with the assurance Gallagher would be able to retire as a SEAL. The Pentagon said that effort prompted Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to ask for his resignation because of a “lack of candor.”
On Nov. 24, Spencer sent a letter to Trump acknowledging his termination, while also expressing concerns about what the Gallagher case might do to the military. “The rule of law is what sets us apart from our adversaries,” Spencer wrote.