White House Eddie Gallagher

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher prepares to answer a question from the media with wife Andrea Gallagher after being acquitted on most of the serious charges against him during his court-martial trial at Naval Base San Diego in San Diego, California, U.S., July 2, 2019. REUTERS/John Gastaldo/File Photo

Navy Officer Says WH Promised to Stop Protecting SEAL — But Trump Could Still Go Rogue

The Navy has been notified that the White House will not intervene to stop a disciplinary proceeding that could cost a SEAL his position in an elite unit, a senior Navy official said Sunday. 

The White House told the Navy on Friday that it could proceed with plans to bring Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher before a board of peers after he was convicted of battlefield misconduct, according to The Associated Press. If the guidance stands, it could defuse an ongoing conflict between President Donald Trump and Navy leaders.

However, the AP noted that “it remained possible that Trump could still use his authority as commander in chief to intervene” on behalf of Gallagher, whose rank he recently restored following a court martial.

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On Thursday Trump tweeted that he would not let the Navy remove Gallagher from the SEALs.

“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!” Trump said in the post.

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said Saturday at an international security forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that he does not consider Trump’s tweet a “formal order.”

“I need a formal order to act,” he said.

Spencer also denied a New York Times report earlier on Saturday that he had threatened to quit if Trump subverted the process. He acknowledged that Trump has final say.

“Good order and discipline is also obeying the orders of the president of the United States,” he said. “The president of the United States is the commander in chief. He’s involved in every aspect of government and he can make decisions and give orders as appropriate.”

Eddie Gallagher and the White House

A military jury in July convicted Gallagher of illegally posing for pictures with the corpse of an Islamic State fighter but acquitted him of murder in the detainee’s death. Gallagher also was cleared of charges that he deliberately fired on unarmed civilians.

Although spared a prison sentence, he was demoted in rank and pay grade for his conviction, which stemmed from a 2017 deployment in Iraq.

On Nov. 15, Trump restored Gallagher’s rank and pay, clearing the way for him to retire on a full pension. The president also pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.

However, on Tuesday, the Navy notified Gallagher, 40, that a five-member panel of fellow Navy commandos would convene on Dec. 2 to review his case and recommend whether he is fit to remain in the SEALs.

The trident review hearings for Gallagher and his immediate superiors were ordered by the commander of Naval Special Warfare, Rear Admiral Collin Green, whom the New York Times also reported had threatened to resign. Spencer also said Green has not threatened to quit.

Gallagher’s lawyers have accused the Navy of trying to remove the SEAL designation in retaliation for Trump’s decision to restore his rank.

Gallagher filed a complaint with the inspector general accusing Green of insubordination for defying Trump’s actions.

During an appearance Sunday on “Fox & Friends,” Gallagher repeated his argument that the Navy was acting in retaliation.

“They could have taken my Trident at any time they wanted,” he said. “Now they’re trying to take it after the president restored my rank.”

Gallagher said he wanted to be allowed to retire on Nov. 30 “with all the honors that I’ve earned, get back to my family.”

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