The Secretary of the Navy is reportedly considering resigning from the top post after Donald Trump’s vow to stop the military branch from disciplining a Navy SEAL accused of murder and convicted of posing with the dead body of a prisoner.
As NBC News reported, military leaders lobbied Trump on Air Force One to back off his vow to stop the possible demotion of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher after his conviction. They are worried that Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer will end up resigning over the spat, and they hope to push Trump to back off his vow to intervene and instead allow the Navy to follow through on its plans to discipline Gallagher.
Trump had previously expressed support for Gallagher, restoring his rank and denouncing an internal Navy investigation that was considered likely to lead to Gallagher being removed from the elite SEAL corps.
“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!” Trump tweeted.
On Saturday, Spencer pushed back against the reports that he had threatened to resign.
“Contrary to popular belief, I am still here,” he tweeted. “I did not threaten to resign.”
Spencer did not say whether he was considering resigning, and NBC News cited people close to the Navy secretary in saying that resignation was a consideration if Trump went through with his order to stop the review process.
Military experts have said that Trump’s intervention to stop discipline of Gallagher undercuts Navy authority, especially the decision of Rear Adm. Collin Green, commander of the Navy’s Special Warfare Command, to call for the review.
Spencer had already pushed back against Trump, saying that the president’s tweet supporting Gallagher was not an official order and that he must put it in writing if he is ordering the Navy to end the review into whether he can remain in the SEALs. Spencer had said that Gallagher should face a board of peers to determine his future in the Navy, calling it “good order and discipline” to follow the process.
Trump has already intervened in other matters regarding the Gallagher case. Earlier this year, the ordered the Navy to rescind the Navy Achievement Medals given to four prosecutors in the Gallagher case and four members of their legal staff. Trump also lashed out against the prosecutors on Twitter, saying the awards were “ridiculously given.”