Navy Secretary Richard Spencer has been forced out by Defense Secretary Mark Esper in connection with the ongoing case of Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, who is accused of war crimes in Iraq.
Esper reportedly asked for Spencer’s resignation, but in a letter Spencer “acknowledge[s] my termination.”
The Navy reportedly planned a review that could have expelled Gallagher from the SEALs, and forced him to surrender his Trident pin, but President Trump tweeted that he should remaining in the elite group. Gallagher was acquitted of murder but convicted earlier this year of posing with the body of a prisoner.
Esper said that Spencer had gone directly to White House officials instead of to him to propose a compromise that would have Gallagher leave the SEALs but retire with his Trident pin as long as the White House did not interfere with the Navy’s review. Esper added that Spencer’s proposal contradicted his own public position, and that he was “deeply troubled by this conduct.”
Spencer said in the letter that he had been given an order that he could not in “good conscience obey.”
Esper reportedly has put forward retired Navy Rear Adm. Kenneth Braithwaite, currently the U.S. ambassador to Norway, to be considered as the next Navy secretary.