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'Deeply Troubled' Defense Secretary Fires Navy Chief

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer has been told to resign
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 24, 2019 1:30 PM CST
Updated Nov 24, 2019 5:00 PM CST
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In this July 2, 2019, file photo, Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher leaves a military court on Naval Base San Diego.   (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)
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(Newser) – Well, that settles it: Navy Secretary Richard Spencer just got fired. Defense Secretary Mark Esper demanded his resignation Sunday amid turmoil over a pending military review of a tarnished Navy SEAL, Fox News reports. Esper sought Spencer's resignation "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," a Department of Defense spokesman said. The firing came after Spencer said the Navy would still review Gallagher's SEAL status despite a tweet from President Trump saying the Navy "will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher's Trident Pin." Trump also restored Gallagher's SEAL status after the Navy had demoted him.

The DOD said Esper made the move after hearing Spencer had privately told the White House that Gallagher could retire a SEAL if the Navy review was allowed to proceed—an offer Spencer didn't reveal publicly, per the Washington Post. "I am deeply troubled by this conduct shown by a senior DOD official," said Esper. The Gallagher drama was heating up all weekend, with Spencer saying the review would proceed and Gallagher accusing Navy officials of "corruption," per the Washington Examiner. Sunday reports had the White House agreeing to back off. To recap, the Navy had acquitted Gallagher of grave charges—including murder—while serving in Iraq in 2017, but demoted him for posing in a photo with a dead Islamic State captive. (Read more Navy SEALs stories.)

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