Schumer praises former Navy chief after ouster

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer urges declassification of letter from Pence aide No rush to judgment on Trump — it's been ongoing since Election Day Collins walks impeachment tightrope MORE (D-N.Y.) expressed support for ousted Navy Secretary Richard Spencer on Sunday following his firing by Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Doomsday Clock ticks closer to midnight | Military shares details on Kenyan base attack | Amazon asks court to halt work on Pentagon 'war cloud' US military releases new details of Kenyan base attack that left 3 dead Overnight Defense: Dems raise pressure on Esper to block border wall funds | Trump impeachment trial begins in Senate | Day one dominated by fight over rules MORE.

In a statement, the senator praised Spencer for "standing up to President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: 'Statute of limitations' for Biden apology is 'up' Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation MORE when he was wrong" after Spencer blamed his firing on his refusal to follow an order from Trump that he morally opposed.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I just spoke to former Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer. I told him he’s a patriot, that he served the Navy and the nation well and he will be missed," Schumer said in the statement.

"Secretary Spencer did the right thing and he should be proud of standing up to President Trump when he was wrong, something too many in this administration and the Republican Party are scared to do. Good order, discipline, and morale among the Armed Services must transcend politics, and Secretary Spencer’s commitment to these principles will not be forgotten.”

Trump blamed Spencer's firing Sunday evening on failures to cut costs while secretary of the Navy as well as the president's displeasure with the Navy's handling of the war crimes trial of SEAL Eddie Gallagher in a series of tweets while thanking him for his "service and commitment'

"I was not pleased with the way that Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s trial was handled by the Navy. He was treated very badly but, despite this, was completely exonerated on all major charges. I then restored Eddie’s rank. Likewise, large cost overruns from past administration’s contracting procedures were not addressed to my satisfaction. Therefore, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer’s services have been terminated by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper," he tweeted.

Trump and Spencer's explanations both clashed with that of Spencer, who said in a lengthy statement that he disagreed with the commander in chief on the issue of the rule of law and had refused to follow an order that he felt violated his oath of office.

"I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took in the presence of my family, my flag, and my faith," Spencer said.

Kenneth Braithwaite, the administration's current ambassador to Norway, will be Trump's nominee to replace Spencer, the president added in his tweets.

"Admiral and now Ambassador to Norway Ken Braithwaite will be nominated by me to be the new Secretary of the Navy. A man of great achievement and success, I know Ken will do an outstanding job!" the president tweeted.