Richard Spencer, the former secretary of the Navy, has spoken out about what he described as the Trump administration's “shocking and unprecedented intervention” in the case of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes. Spencer wrote in a Washington Post op-ed published Wednesday that President Trump intervened in the case before the trial against Gallagher had even started in March, with two calls from the president urging Spencer to release Gallagher from the Navy brig and place him in a less-secure holding facility. “I came to believe that Trump’s interest in the case stemmed partly from the way the defendant’s lawyers and others had worked to keep it front and center in the media,” Spencer wrote.
On Nov. 14, he said, he sent Trump a note specifically asking him not to intervene in the case anymore. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone called him back to say the president would continue to be involved, and to relay Trump's order to reverse Gallagher's demotion and restore his status to the rank of chief. Spencer says he was ultimately ousted from his position as secretary after failing to take Trump's tweet about Gallagher being allowed to keep his Navy SEAL Trident pin as a formal order.
Spencer wrote that the situation surrounding Gallagher was a “reminder that the president 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.” “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,” Spencer wrote.