Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said on Saturday that disciplinary action against Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher would not be stopped just because of a tweet from President Donald Trump, saying that he does not consider a tweet a formal order.
“I need a formal order to act,” Spencer said while speaking on the sidelines of the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, The Associated Press reported. “I don’t interpret tweets as a formal order.”
Spencer’s comments came just days after Trump declared on Twitter that the Navy would “NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin.”
The Navy on Wednesday informed Gallagher, a chief petty officer, that he would face a legal review next month into whether he could stay on the Navy SEALs. A military jury had convicted Gallagher, 40, in July of posing with a corpse in Iraq during a 2017 deployment. While Gallagher had been acquitted of several other charges, including murder, the Navy SEAL’s conviction resulted in a loss of rank and reduction in pay.
Trump’s move to stop the review of Gallagher has reportedly caused intense opposition among top Navy officials. The New York Times reported that both Spencer and the admiral who leads the SEALs threatened to resign if their plans for a review were halted.
Gallagher’s lawyers have accused the Navy of conducting a disciplinary review in retaliation to Trump’s move to restore Gallagher’s rank ahead of his conviction.