U.S. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said on Friday that SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher should face a planned "trident review board," despite President Donald Trump's tweet Thursday that Gallagher should remain a SEAL.
Spencer told Reuters at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada, he supports the hearing into whether Gallagher can keep his trident, a symbol of the SEALS, in light of Gallagher's conviction at a general court-martial in San Diego in July.
"I believe the process matters for good order and discipline," Spencer said.
On Tuesday, the Union-Tribune reported that the decision to review the SEAL qualifications of four service members connected to Gallagher's war crimes case by the commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, Rear Adm. Collin Green was made with the support of Navy leadership, including the chief of naval operations, Adm. Mike Gilday.
Gallagher's legal team said the decision to hold board reviews was a challenge to Trump's authority as commander in chief.
Trump has intervened several times on Gallagher's behalf. On Thursday, about an hour after one of Gallagher's lawyers appeared on Fox & Friends decrying the review board, Trump took to Twitter to express his disapproval.
"The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher's Trident Pin. This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!"
The Navy Chief of Information, Rear Adm. Charlie Brown, told the Union-Tribune Thursday afternoon that the Navy was waiting for Trump to issue more specific orders before officially canceling the review.
"The Navy follows the lawful orders of the President," Brown said in a statement.
"We will do so in case of an order to stop the administrative review of SOC Gallagher's professional qualification. We are aware of the President's tweet and we are awaiting further guidance."
A senior Navy official told the Union-Tribune late Thursday that, in fact, all the review boards have been halted pending further guidance from Trump.
Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher was charged with killing a wounded ISIS captive and shooting civilians during his time in Iraq in 2017. At the end of his court-martial, a jury acquitted him of the most serious allegations and convicted him of the offense of posing for photos with the body of the deceased fighter.
A military jury sentenced Gallagher to four months' confinement, which he served before trial, and reduced his rank to petty officer 1st class, or E-6.
On Nov. 15, President Donald Trump restored Gallagher's rank to E-7, or chief petty officer. The same day, Trump pardoned two Army service members accused of war crimes. His action on Gallagher's behalf was not a pardon or an exoneration.
This article is written by Andrew Dyer from The San Diego Union-Tribune and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.