Eddie Gallagher's Attorney Says He'll Sue NY Times, Claiming 'Fake Reporting'

Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher celebrates after being acquitted of premeditated murder at Naval Base San Diego on July 2, 2019. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
Military.com | By Gina Harkins

Hours after a bombshell report showed Navy SEALs making damning claims against their former platoon leader, Eddie Gallagher's attorney said he's planning to file a lawsuit against the reporter who broke the story.

Gallagher, who recently retired as a Navy chief petty officer after President Donald Trump intervened in his long legal plight, was back in the headlines Friday when The New York Times published video footage it obtained of several SEALs accusing their leader of war crimes.

The footage includes serious accusations of a combat-hungry Gallagher firing indiscriminately at Iraqi civilians. One SEAL claimed Gallagher targeted women and children, according to the Times' footage, with the chief boasting that "burqas were flying."

Gallagher's teammates called the former SEAL "toxic" and "freaking evil." The chief was "perfectly OK with killing anybody that was moving," claimed Special Operator 1st Class Corey Scott, who later changed his story and testified that he, not Gallagher, was responsible for a man's death in Iraq in 2017.

Related: Trump to Restore SEAL Gallagher's Rank, Dismiss Soldiers' War Crimes Charges: Report

The sometimes-emotional footage came from initial interviews the Naval Criminal Investigative Service conducted with members of SEAL Team 7 after allegations emerged that Gallagher stabbed an unarmed Islamic State group fighter. The New York Times published portions of the interviews as part of its documentary series called "The Weekly," which airs on FX and streams on Hulu.

But Tim Parlatore, Gallagher's lawyer, said the Times "cherry-picked" footage, ignoring his client's side of the story. "Fake reporting" is how Parlatore described it Friday.

"We're filing a lawsuit against Dave Philipps," Parlatore said, referring to The New York Times reporter behind the story.

Reached by email, Philipps said the Times "stands by its reporting." He did not respond to criticism from Parlatore that Philipps ignored additional facts presented to him that didn't make it into his coverage.

"I've sent him so many things to make sure that he tries to get the story right, and he just willfully ignores it and refuses to print any retractions," Parlatore said. "... He has really crossed the line on this thing."

That included examples of death threats the Gallagher family has received, the lawyer added. He called the Times' decision to air unsworn, unchallenged videos of NCIS interviews "an embarrassment for journalism."

The SEALs' initial claims about Gallagher didn't hold up in court, Parlatore said, and the Times didn't do enough to convey that in its coverage. The lawyer called the videos a "treasure trove" for Gallagher's defense team, citing inconsistencies and other problems with the SEALs' initial video interviews.

All of that played out in the courtroom, he added, where Gallagher was acquitted of murder charges. The SEAL was found guilty only of inappropriately posing for a photo with an enemy corpse.

"This is the very bedrock of our Constitution, that people have to have the right to face their accuser in court," Parlatore said. "What Dave Philipps is asking everybody to do is to ignore the fact that Eddie Gallagher exercised his constitutional rights, faced his accusers in court, poked holes in their stories -- ignore all of that and go back to the initial videos."

Gallagher's case has been fraught with controversy, reaching the highest levels of Navy leadership and even contributing to the service's top civilian leader being removed from his job over his handling of the situation.

Trump intervened on Gallagher's behalf several times. That included moving him to less-restrictive confinement ahead of his trial, restoring his rank to chief petty officer after his guilty verdict, and preventing the Navy from stripping Gallagher of his coveted SEAL trident pin.

Trump also ordered the Navy to rescind awards given to the prosecution, which failed to secure a conviction in the SEAL's trial and prompted a Navy- and Marine Corps-wide legal review.

The lead prosecutor was also removed mid-trial after admitting to emailing tracking devices to a journalist and several defense attorneys to identify parties leaking information about the case to the media.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

Read more: Gallagher Was Planning to Give Up His SEAL Trident Before SecNav Was Fired