Trump taps Ambassador to Norway Kenneth Braithwaite to replace ousted Navy chief

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President Trump announced Sunday that Kenneth Braithwaite, the current ambassador to Norway, would replace Richard Spencer as the secretary of the Navy shortly after Spencer’s ouster earlier in the day.

Trump’s announcement came hours after Spencer was fired by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, with Esper claiming that Spencer had met behind his back with White House officials and offered to allow a SEAL convicted of a war crime to retire at his current rank.

“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,” Trump tweeted Sunday evening, referring to Gallagher’s trial and acquittal on murder charges.

“Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer’s services have been terminated by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. I thank Richard for his service & commitment. Eddie will retire peacefully with all of the honors that he has earned, including his Trident Pin,” Trump continued.

“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!” he said.

A spokesman for the Pentagon said Spencer’s firing was due to the Defense secretary’s lack of confidence in the Navy chief following secret dealings with White House officials.

Spencer, Esper’s spokesman said, had made overtures to White House officials urging them to accept that Gallagher would retire at his current rank if the president agreed to not intervene in his case.

In his own letter, Spencer seemed to suggest that his ouster hinged instead on an order from the president apparently related to the Gallagher case that Spencer could not follow due to moral reservations.

“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 wrote.

The president, meanwhile, pointed to insufficient cost-cutting efforts carried out by the Navy and general dissatisfaction with how Gallagher’s case was handled.

“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,” the president tweeted.

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