Former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer blasted President Donald Trump on Wednesday, writing in a Washington Post op-ed that Trump “has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices.”
In the op-ed, the ousted Navy Secretary sharply criticized President Donald Trump for intervening in the case of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who was charged with war crimes.
“[President Trump] has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices,” Spencer wrote after being ousted Sunday from his position over a possible compromise that would have allowed Gallagher to retire as a SEAL rather than being removed from the elite force.
Gallagher, who was acquitted of murdering a teenage prisoner of war in Iraq, was demoted after being found guilty of posing for photographs with a POW’s body after stabbing the teenager combatant to death. Trump restored his rank to chief petty officer earlier this month against military protocol.
Spencer wrote that he sent Trump a note asking him to not intervene in Gallagher’s case. According to his account, White House counsel Pat Cipollone called Spencer to say Trump would “remain involved” and, in a later phone call, said the president would order him to restore Gallagher’s rank.
“This was a shocking and unprecedented intervention in a low-level review,” Spencer said.
Spencer also issued a plea to U.S. military partners, asking for their understanding.
“Our allies need to know that we remain a force for good, and to please bear with us as we move through this moment in time,” he wrote.
The White House has criticized Spencer over the controversy.
“I’m sure it hurts to lose your position, but the president stands by his decision, and he was there,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told Fox News.
Trump has said he will nominate Rear Adm. Kenneth Braithwaite, the U.S. ambassador to Norway, to replace Spencer as Navy secretary.