Trump says he ‘may look into’ dismissal of ousted Naval captain

President Trump on Monday said he may look into the dismissal of a Naval captain who was relieved of his duty aboard the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt after warning of an outbreak of coronavirus on board in a letter that leaked to the press.

The controversy surrounding the exit of Capt. Brett Crozier was amplified on Monday when acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told the sailors aboard the ship that the captain was “naive” or “stupid” to think the letter would not leak.

Trump told reporters he hadn’t seen the statement from Modly, but described what he’d heard about it as “strong” and “rough.” He suggested he may personally look into the matter because he believes both Modly and Crozier have good reputations outside the Roosevelt incident.

“I may look into it only from the standpoint that something should be resolved because I’m hearing good things about both people,” he said.

“I may just get involved, if it’s ok with you,” he continued. “And I’m good, believe it or not, at settling arguments. I’m good at settling these arguments. So I may look into it in detail and I‘ll be able to figure it out very fast.”

Trump asserted that Crozier was in the wrong because the letter may have made family members of sailors aboard the Roosevelt anxious and it “shows weakness.”

“There’s nothing weak about us now. Not anymore,” he said. “We have the strongest military we’ve ever had. That ship is incredible.”

Crozier’s letter, which was obtained and published by the San Francisco Chronicle last week, warned sailors could die if a majority of the crew wasn’t evacuated from the ship.

“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” Crozier wrote. “If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors.”

As of Monday, 173 sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for the virus out of the 61 percent of the crew that has been tested. Of the 4,800-person crew, 1,999 have been moved to shore, the Navy said Monday, despite officials saying last week they would move 2,700 to shore by Friday.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said in a statement Monday evening that he no longer has confidence in Modly’s leadership and “believe he should be removed from his position.”

“Acting Secretary Modly’s decision to address the sailors on the Roosevelt and personally attack Captain Crozier shows a tone-deaf approach more focused on personal ego than one of the calm, steady leadership we so desperately need in this crisis,” Smith said.

Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Robert Burke is conducting an internal investigation into the matter.

Modly told The Washington Post that he stepped in to fire Crozier because he wanted to get out in front of any action by the president. His predecessor Richard Spencer, resigned amid a dispute with Trump.

—Updated at 7:50 p.m.

Tags Adam Smith Donald Trump

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