SecDef Esper: President Trump Gave Me Order Sunday to Not Strip Eddie Gallagher of Navy SEAL Trident
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters Monday that President Trump personally gave him an order Sunday to not take away Navy Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher’s SEAL Trident Pin and to allow him to retire at rank as scheduled for November 30.
CPO Eddie Gallagher appeared on Fox and Friends on Sunday to discuss his case.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, screen image from September.
“I spoke to the president on Sunday and he gave me the order that Eddie Gallagher will retain his trident (via Politico)…Eddie Gallagher will retain his Trident as the Commander in Chief directed and will retire at the end of this month. (via CNN)”
Esper’s comments to reporters belied the Pentagon press release Sunday on the firing of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer for trying to arrange a secret deal to fix the review so that Gallagher kept his Trident that failed to mention Trump ordering Esper to not take Gallagher’s Trident.
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. 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.
The Pentagon has been in open rebellion against Trump over his interventions in the Gallagher case. Gallagher was maliciously prosecuted for murder by a corrupt military justice system that, after the corruption was exposed, led to a trial that saw Gallagher acquitted of all charges except for posing for a photograph with the corpse on an ISIS fighter in 2017–Gallagher was the only one charged even though several other service members posed for the photo. Gallagher was demoted as punishment, however Trump restored his rank and pay grade a week-and-a-half ago, prompting the Navy to seek to take Gallagher’s Trident through a review board. Trump then tweeted that the Navy will not take the Trident and to , but that was not considered an order and was ignored. Meanwhile Gallagher, who had previously put in for retirement effective November 30, filed an IG complaint with the DoD last week about the handling of his case.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Monday he fired Richard Spencer after learning the Navy secretary had secretly tried to broker a deal with the White House allowing Navy Chief Eddie Gallagher to retire and keep his SEAL Trident so long as President Trump did not intervene.
In a briefing with reporters at the Pentagon, Esper said he and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley were “flabbergasted” to learn through a senior White House official on Friday that Spencer was seeking a deal without Esper’s knowledge.
“If the President allowed the Navy to handle the case,” Esper said of the deal, “He would guarantee that Eddie Gallagher would be restored to rank, allowed to retain his trident, and permitted to retire.”
“This proposal was completely contrary to what we agreed to, and contrary to Secretary Spencer’s public position,” Esper said…
Fox News report by Jennifer Griffin:
Defense Secretary Mark Esper says President Trump ordered him to stop disciplinary process for Navy SEAL https://t.co/egmTcGdNvA
— Kristinn Taylor (@KristinnFR) November 25, 2019