The Trump administration will not interfere with the Navy’s plans to internally discipline one of its SEALs, Edward Gallagher, after Trump repeatedly went to bat for the man once facing murder and other war crime charges, The Associated Press reports.
A naval official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Sunday that commanders had received word from the Trump administration that, despite a Trump tweet to the contrary, it can proceed with its plans to exact disciplinary action against Gallagher, probably expelling him from the SEALs.
Who Is Edward Gallagher?
Gallagher served in the Navy SEALs, an elite special operations unit, during U.S. operations in the Middle East. In 2017, during the Battle of Mosul, Gallager, who by this time had a reputation for disregarding the rules in his zeal to battle terrorists, per The New York Times, allegedly killed a captured and wounded prisoner of war, stabbing him with his knife, and then allegedly posing for a picture with his corpse.
Gallagher was court-martialed in 2019, on a variety of criminal charges, including murder and attempted murder, among others. However, he was convicted only of posing with a corpse, for which he was sentenced to four months — time he’d already served — and a reduction in rank, from Chief Petty Officer (E-7) to Petty Officer First Class (E-6).
Interventions By Donald Trump
In early November, as The Navy Times reported at the time, Donald Trump, under his authority as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, restored Gallagher’s rank. What’s more, last week he tweeted that the Navy “will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin,” where the “Trident Pin” refers to the regalia that identifies him as a Navy SEAL. In other words, Trump was tweeting that he wouldn’t allow the Navy to remove Gallagher from the SEALS, as they had wanted to do.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, speaking on Saturday, said that he didn’t consider a tweet from the president to be the same thing as a direct order to keep Gallagher in the SEALS, and absent such an order, the Navy would proceed with removing Gallagher from the unit.
“I need a formal order to act,” Spencer said.
Now, however, it appears as if the Trump administration won’t intervene to prevent Gallagher from being removed from the SEALS.
Speaking to Fox & Friends on Sunday morning, Gallagher suggested that the Navy was punishing him in retaliation for Trump’s intervention.
“They could have taken my Trident at any time they wanted. Now they’re trying to take it after the president restored my rank,” he said.