US Defense Chief Esper Fires Navy Secretary Spencer Over SEAL Scandal
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, according to the Defense Department.
In a prepared statement, DOD spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said that after Secretary Esper and Chairman Milley spoke with the Commander in Chief on Friday regarding the case of Gallagher, Secretary Esper learned that Secretary Spencer had previously and privately proposed to the White House – contrary to Spencer’s public position – to restore Gallagher’s rank and allow him to retire with his Trident pin.
“When recently asked by Secretary Esper, Secretary Spencer confirmed that despite multiple conversations on the Gallagher matter, Secretary Esper was never informed by Secretary Spencer of his private proposal,” Hoffman said in the statement.
“Secretary Esper’s position with regard to UCMJ, disciplinary, and fitness for duty actions has always been that the process should be allowed to play itself out objectively and deliberately, in fairness to all parties,” the statement said, continuing, “However, at this point, given the events of the last few days, Secretary Esper has directed that Gallagher retain his Trident pin. Secretary Esper will meet with Navy Under Secretary (now Acting Secretary) Thomas Modley and the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday on Monday morning to discuss the way ahead.”
“I am deeply troubled by this conduct shown by a senior DOD official.” said Secretary Esper. “Unfortunately, as a result I have determined that Secretary Spencer no longer has my confidence to continue in his position. I wish Richard well.”
Secretary Esper has proposed to the President that Ambassador Kenneth Braithwaite, current U.S. Ambassador to Norway and a retired Navy Rear Admiral, be considered as the next Secretary of the Navy.