Defense Secretary Says Trump Ordered Him To Let Eddie Gallagher Retire As Navy SEAL thumbnail

Defense Secretary Says Trump Ordered Him To Let Eddie Gallagher Retire As Navy SEAL

Defense Secretary Mark Esper, pictured in October, told reporters at the Defense Department on Monday that President Trump ordered him to ensure that Eddie Gallagher retained his Navy SEAL Trident pin.

Virginia Mayo/AP

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Virginia Mayo/AP

Defense Secretary Mark Esper, pictured in October, told reporters at the Defense Department on Monday that President Trump ordered him to ensure that Eddie Gallagher retained his Navy SEAL Trident pin.

Virginia Mayo/AP

Updated 6:25 p.m. ET President Trump told reporters at the White House that he was “sticking up for the armed forces” in his pardons of military personnel. The commander in chief has repeatedly intervened on behalf of the Navy SEAL recently convicted of misconduct. And Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Trump did it again over the weekend, directly ordering him to allow Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher to retire as a SEAL. “I spoke with the president on Sunday. He gave me the order that Eddie Gallagher will retain his Trident pin,” Esper told reporters on Monday at the Defense Department, referring to the insignia designating Gallagher as a member of the elite commando force. The order from the commander in chief effectively put an end to proceedings by a Trident review board that were called by the commander of Navy special warfare, Rear Adm. Collin Green. The panel was charged with deciding whether Gallagher and three of his supervising officers were fit for duty. In Gallagher’s case, the board was set to convene next week. On Monday, Esper also reiterated his reasons for asking Navy Secretary Richard Spencer to tender his resignation on Sunday. He accused Spencer of circumventing the appropriate channels, including Esper himself, to engage in direct negotiations with the White House to allow Gallagher to remain a SEAL. Meanwhile, Spencer was saying publicly that the Trident review board process should be allowed to play out.

“This proposal was completely contrary to what we agreed to and contrary to Secretary Spencer’s public position,” Esper said, adding that he was “completely caught off guard by this information and realized that
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