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US Esper Demands Resignation of Navy Secretary Over SEAL Case

03:45  25 november  2019
03:45  25 november  2019 Source:   nytimes.com

Trump’s actions raise concern about role in military justice

  Trump’s actions raise concern about role in military justice WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Mark Esper declared that President Donald Trump ordered him to stop a disciplinary review of a Navy SEAL accused of battlefield misconduct, an intervention that raised questions about America’s commitment to international standards for battlefield ethics. Esper’s comments Monday were the latest twist in the case of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, which led to a conflict between Trump and armed services leaders over military discipline. The dispute peaked over the weekend with the firing of Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer.

Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer, right, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Trump. Mr. Spencer was asked to resign by Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper .Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper asked for the resignation of Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer on Sunday after losing confidence in him over his handling of the case of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq, the Pentagon said. Support our journalism.

In this July 16, 2019, photo, acting Defense Secretary Richard Spencer listens during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. Secretary of the U.S. Navy Spencer said Saturday, Nov. 23, he doesn't consider a tweet by President Donald Trump an order and would need a formal order to stop a review of Edward Gallagher, a sailor who could lose his status as a Navy Seal.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)© AP In this July 16, 2019, photo, acting Defense Secretary Richard Spencer listens during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. Secretary of the U.S. Navy Spencer said Saturday, Nov. 23, he doesn't consider a tweet by President Donald Trump an order and would need a formal order to stop a review of Edward Gallagher, a sailor who could lose his status as a Navy Seal. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper demanded the resignation of the Navy’s top civilian leader on Sunday, an abrupt move aimed at ending an extraordinary dispute between President Trump and his own senior military leadership over the fate of a SEAL commando in a war crimes case.

‘Frogman against frogman’: Case against SEAL sparks debate

  ‘Frogman against frogman’: Case against SEAL sparks debate SAN DIEGO (AP) — The war crimes case against a Navy SEAL not only cost the Navy secretary his job. It dragged an elite military force known for quiet professionalism into a political firestorm and drove a wedge through the special operations community. Regardless of their position on the allegations against Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, most SEALs agree that the force has suffered from the attention surrounding the case that led President Trump to restore Gallagher’s rank.“It’s incredibly divisive and polarizing within our own community,” one SEAL said. “In some ways, it’s pitting frogman against frogman, and it’s really hard to know what to do.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper asked and received the resignation of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer on Sunday over his handling of the case of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq that angered President Donald Trump. “I was not pleased with the way that Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s

Alex Brandon/AP. Defense Secretary Mark Esper asked for Navy Secretary Richard Spencer's resignation on Sunday over his handling of the case of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq, The Washington Post reported. Spencer's resignation comes after days of back-and-forth over the

In a statement, Mr. Esper said he had lost trust in the Navy secretary, Richard V. Spencer, because his private statements about the case differed from what he advocated in public. Mr. Esper added that he was “deeply troubled by this conduct.”

A senior Defense Department official and a senior White House official said on Sunday night that Mr. Spencer was trying to cut a side deal with the White House to let the commando remain in the elite unit, even as he pushed both publicly and with Pentagon officials for a disciplinary hearing.

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But Mr. Spencer had also provoked Mr. Trump’s ire by threatening to resign over the case and by publicly saying he disagreed with the president’s decision to intervene in favor of the commando, Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, Defense Department officials said.

Pentagon chief says he was ‘flabbergasted’ by Navy secretary’s attempt to make a private deal with Trump

  Pentagon chief says he was ‘flabbergasted’ by Navy secretary’s attempt to make a private deal with Trump The offer by Richard V. Spencer contradicted what he had told Esper and other senior defense officials in recent days.The offer by Richard V. Spencer, who was ousted by Esper on Sunday, contradicted what he had told Esper and other senior defense officials in recent days: that he was considering resigning if Trump forced the issue, Esper said.

Navy secretary fired amid Navy SEAL controversy. The high profile controversy around the case of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher claimed the job of the Secretary of the Navy amid wrangling over Esper ’s statements contradicted a resignation letter signed by Spencer and released late Sunday

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper asked Navy Secretary Richard Spencer to resign on Sunday after the Pentagon chief lost confidence in how Spencer handled the case of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq, according to the Pentagon. Spencer’s resignation stems from the controversial case

Mr. Spencer’s friends cited those reasons for his departure, saying that Mr. Esper was mischaracterizing the situation.

Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump sitting at a table: Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer, right, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Trump. Mr. Spencer was asked to resign by Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper.© Doug Mills/The New York Times Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer, right, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Trump. Mr. Spencer was asked to resign by Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper.

Mr. Spencer’s resignation letter, dated Sunday, said he regarded good order and discipline throughout the Navy’s ranks to be “deadly serious business.”

“The lives of our sailors, Marines and civilian teammates quite literally depend on the professional execution of our many missions, and they also depend on the ongoing faith and support of the people we serve and the allies we serve alongside,” the letter said.

He added: “Unfortunately, it has become apparent that in this respect, I no longer share the same understanding with the commander in chief who appointed me, in regards to the key principle of good order and discipline. I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took.”

'The rule of law is what sets us apart': Read Richard Spencer's scathing final letter as Navy secretary

  'The rule of law is what sets us apart': Read Richard Spencer's scathing final letter as Navy secretary In the letter he submitted on his way out the door, Richard Spencer did not say that he resigned but rather stated, "I hereby acknowledge my termination."In the letter he submitted on his way out the door, he did not say that he resigned but rather stated, "I hereby acknowledge my termination.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper fired Navy Secretary Richard Spencer over the secretary 's handling of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher. " Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper has asked for the resignation of Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer after losing trust and confidence in him regarding his lack

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he was "flabbergasted" to discover that then- Navy Secretary Richard Spencer had been working a White House back channel to resolve a standoff over controversial Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher.

A Defense Department official said Chief Gallagher would now keep his Trident pin, the symbol of his membership in the SEALs, at Mr. Esper’s direction because of concerns that the events of the past few days would make it impossible for him to get an impartial hearing.

Mr. Trump railed against the handling of the case on Sunday, saying on Twitter that Chief Gallagher had been “treated very badly.” He also announced that he would nominate Kenneth Braithwaite, the ambassador to Norway, to replace Mr. Spencer, an investment banker and retired Marine aviator who had held the job since 2017.

The ousting of Mr. Spencer, first reported by The Washington Post, is the latest turn in an extraordinary story in which Mr. Trump has angered and alienated military leaders by intervening in the cases of three American service members who had been accused of war crimes.

The president and the Defense Department leadership have been at odds since Nov. 15, when Mr. Trump, over objections from the Pentagon, reversed the demotion of Chief Gallagher and pardoned two other service members, overruling military leaders who sought to punish them. All three were lionized by conservative commentators who portrayed them as war heroes unfairly prosecuted for actions taken in the heat of battle.

Opinions | In firing Richard Spencer, Trump recklessly crosses another line

  Opinions | In firing Richard Spencer, Trump recklessly crosses another line Until now, Trump had exempted the military from his belligerent, government-by-tweet interference. But the Gallagher case illustrates how an irascible, vengeful commander in chief is ready to override traditional limits to aid political allies in foreign policy, law enforcement and now military matters. Subscribe to the Post Most newsletter: Today’s most popular stories on The Washington PostSpencer was fired by Defense Secretary Mark T.

" Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper has asked for the resignation of Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer after losing trust and confidence in him regarding his lack of candor over conversations with the White House involving the handling of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher," the Defense Department

The agreement that led to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer's forced resignation involved the case of Navy SEAL The move prompted Esper 's decision to ask for Spencer's resignation , according to Pentagon Collin Green, the admiral overseeing the SEALs , threatened to resign over the possible

Chief Gallagher was turned in by his own platoon last spring. Several fellow SEALs reported that he had shot civilians and killed a captive Islamic State fighter with a custom hunting knife during a deployment in Iraq in 2017. He was also charged with obstruction of justice for threatening to kill SEALs who reported him.

Chief Gallagher was convicted of one charge: bringing discredit to the armed forces by posing for photos with the teenage captive’s dead body.

Mr. Trump announced that he was ordering the pardons of Clint Lorance, a former Army lieutenant who was serving a 19-year sentence for the murder of two civilians, and Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, an Army Special Forces officer who was facing murder charges for killing an unarmed Afghan he believed was a Taliban bomb maker. And the president reversed the demotion of Chief Gallagher, who was acquitted of murder charges but convicted of a lesser offense in his high-profile case.

While the Army carried out the president’s orders and dropped the matter, the Navy did so but also began disciplinary proceedings to strip Chief Gallagher of his Trident pin and oust him from the elite SEAL commando unit.

Mr. Trump was having none of it. On Thursday, he wrote on Twitter that “the Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin.” He added: “This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!”

Fired Navy secretary defends handling of controversial SEAL case

  Fired Navy secretary defends handling of controversial SEAL case Richard Spencer spoke to CBS News correspondent David Martin on Monday"I never threatened to resign. I do. I don't threaten," Spencer told CBS News correspondent David Martin after leaving the Pentagon on Monday. "I got fired.

The president’s tweet further infuriated top Navy and SEALs leaders, and Mr. Spencer threatened to resign, Defense Department officials said. He told a number of Pentagon officials that he was willing to go to the mat over this, and it was under that belief that Mr. Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then went to Mr. Trump to ask him to allow the disciplinary process to go through.

A senior Defense Department official said Mr. Spencer was also pursuing the side deal with the White House, unbeknown to either Mr. Esper or General Milley. Mr. Spencer, the official said, told White House officials that if Mr. Trump allowed the disciplinary process to go forward, Mr. Spencer would see to it that Chief Gallagher was not ousted from the Navy SEALs in the end.

After arguing Mr. Spencer’s public case to Mr. Trump, Mr. Esper was furious to discover that the Navy secretary had tried to make a side deal with the White House without informing him, the official said.

“Bananas, completely bananas,” Chief Gallagher’s lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, said when asked about the resignation Sunday. “Whoever cooked up this drug deal, they didn’t let me in on it. But if the secretary of the Navy did lie to the secretary of defense, he had no choice but to ask him to resign.”

A Navy Special Warfare official in San Diego said SEAL commanders were caught off guard by the announcement and were “floored,” saying if there was a back-channel deal between the secretary of the Navy and the White House, the SEAL commander, Rear Adm. Collin Green, and his staff were not aware of it.

The official said the SEALs and the secretary of the Navy’s staff had been in constant contact throughout the decision to submit Chief Gallagher to a Trident review board, and had briefed the decision to the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and gotten no pushback.

As of Friday, Navy Special Warfare had been told it was cleared to proceed, the official said.

Helene Cooper reported from Washington, Maggie Haberman from New York and Dave Philipps from Colorado Springs.

Helene Cooper reported from Washington, Maggie Haberman from New York and Dave Philipps from Colorado Springs.

Military leaders lobby Trump not to meddle in SEAL case as top Navy official weighs quitting .
Navy Secretary Spencer considered quitting over Trump's demand the Navy stop a probe of SEAL Eddie Gallagher. Military leaders lobbied Trump to reconsider.On Thursday Trump waded once again into the case of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL accused of murdering a wounded ISIS militant in Iraq in 2017. Gallagher was acquitted by a military court but found guilty of posing with the dead prisoner's body.

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