The White House will reportedly not get in the way of a disciplinary proceeding focused on Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher and his conduct stemming from a war crimes case.
The Navy received guidance from the White House on Friday indicating that the military service branch could proceed with its planned review of Ghallager’s conduct, The Associated Press, citing an anonymous senior Navy official, reported. The proceeding could lead to Ghallager's removal from the elite commando unit.
The Navy and White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Hill.
Trump has publicly expressed his opposition to the possibility that Ghallager could be removed from the SEALs. He declared last week in a tweet that the Navy would "NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin," which designates him a SEAL.
"This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business," Trump tweeted.
The Navy on Wednesday reportedly informed Gallagher, a chief petty officer, that he would face a legal review in early December into whether he could remain a member of the Navy SEALs.
A military jury had convicted Gallagher, 40, in July of posing with a corpse in Iraq during a 2017 deployment. While Gallagher had been acquitted of several other charges, including murder, his conviction resulted in a loss of rank and reduction in pay. He received no jail time for his conviction.
Trump's tweet engendered speculation that the disciplinary proceeding would be halted. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said Saturday, however, that he did not consider a tweet to be a formal order.
“I need a formal order to act. I don’t interpret them as a formal order," Spencer said at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada.
Though he indicated that the disciplinary review into Ghallager would be canceled if Trump made such a demand.
“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,” he said.
The New York Times reported that both Spencer and Collin Green, the admiral who leads the SEALs, threatened to resign if their plans for a review were squashed. Spencer strongly denied the report, saying in a statement "that in no way, shape, or form did I ever threaten to resign."
Ghallager has claimed that the Navy review is a form of retaliation for Trump's decision to restore his rank. Appearing on "Fox & Friends" Sunday, Ghallagher took aim at Spencer and Green, saying that this whole case was about "ego and retaliation."
"This has nothing to do with good order and discipline," he said. "They could have taken my trident at any time they wanted. Now they're trying to take it after the president restored my rank."
Trump offered support to Ghallager ahead of his Fox News appearance, tweeting, "have no fear, all will end well for everyone!"
Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher will be on @foxandfriends this morning at 7:30 A.M. Have no fear, all will end well for everyone!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 24, 2019