Navy Secretary Richard Spencer announced his plan to defy a direct order from President Donald Trump to try and remove recently-pardoned Eddie Gallagher form the Navy SEALs.
Despite President Trump’s order that Gallagher should have his rank restored and allowed to keep serving, Spencer said he will bring Gallagher in front of a board of his peers to try and remove him from the force.
In July, Gallagher was convicted of illegally posing with the body of a dead ISIS fighter after the jury acquitted him of murder. He was demoted and had his pay grade reduced, but not prison time.
Then last week, President Donald Trump officially pardoned Gallagher and 2 other U.S. soldiers convicted of war crimes while in service despite protests from the Pentagon.
On Thursday, Trump lashed out against the Navy for their intent to strip Gallagher of his newly restored rank, posting on Twitter:
“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!”
Despite the order from the Commander-in-Chief, the Navy announced they would move forward with their plans to punish Gallagher unless President Trump sent them a “lawful order”, meaning they don’t consider his tweet an order.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer also reported that President Trump called him directly in March at 4 AM and ordered him to get Gallagher out of the brig. “Get him out!” Trump told Spencer, who was shocked that the President was intervening in the case.
President Trump has made it clear before that he believes U.S. soldiers should be treated less-severely for committing war crimes, saying much of the blame lies with the military itself for training them to “be killers” and then punishing when they do just that. It is likely he will step in personally to stop the Navy SEALs from removing Gallagher.