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Tammy Duckworth calls on acting Navy secretary to resign

Tammy Duckworth calls on acting Navy secretary to resign
© Anna Moneymaker

Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthTop Senate Democrat backs waiver for Biden Pentagon nominee Biden pick for Pentagon cruises through confirmation hearing Senate Democrats call on Biden to immediately invoke Defense Production Act MORE (Ill.) on Tuesday became the latest Democrat to call on acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly to resign, as criticism mounts over his firing of a captain who raised the alarm about coronavirus spreading on an aircraft carrier.

Navy Capt. Brett Crozier, who led the USS Theodore Roosevelt in Guam, was dismissed last week after sending a letter pleading for permission to relieve his crew, dozens of whom tested positive for COVID-19. The letter was ultimately leaked to media, prompting his removal.

“I can reach no other conclusion than this situation has overwhelmed [Modly's] ability to act professionally when acting professionally was what was needed most. We do, and we should, expect more from those in charge of our Armed Forces, and Acting Secretary Modly must resign immediately,” Duckworth, a combat veteran and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement Tuesday.

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Duckworth’s remarks appeared to be a play on Modly’s statement from last week, when he said: I could reach no other conclusion than that Captain Crozier had allowed the complexity of his challenge with the COVID outbreak on his ship to overwhelm his ability to act professionally, when acting professionally was what was needed most at the time. We do, and we should, expect more from the Commanding Officers of our aircraft carriers.”

On Monday, audio was released of Modly calling Crozier "naive" and "stupid" in remarks to the aircraft carrier's crew. He later apologized to Crozier and crew members.

Duckworth joins several Democratic lawmakers and other veterans — such as Rep. Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaChamber-endorsed Dems struggle on election night Overnight Defense: How members of the Armed Services committees fared in Tuesday's elections | Military ballots among those uncounted in too-close-to-call presidential race | Ninth US service member killed by COVID-19 Luria holds onto Virginia House seat MORE (Va.), Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuHouse Democrats introduce measures to oppose Trump's bomb sale to Saudis Washington state rep joins list of Republicans voting to impeach Trump Growing number of GOP lawmakers say they support impeachment MORE (Calif.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) — in calling for Modly's resignation.

Democrats are also pressing the Pentagon for more details. On Tuesday, a House subcommittee chairman announced that he has asked the Pentagon for documents related to the coronavirus outbreak aboard the USS Roosevelt.