Trump admits defeat over discipline of Navy Seal who posed with corpse

President had said disgraced commando should be able to stay in elite special forces unit

Phil Thomas
New York
Sunday 24 November 2019 20:24 GMT
US navy secretary Richard Spencer says he does not take commands from Trump's tweets

The White House will not intervene in a US Navy disciplinary process that could see an Iraq War veteran accused of war crimes removed from his unit.

The announcement comes despite two tweets from Donald Trump suggesting he did not want Edward Gallagher to be thrown out of the Navy SEALs.

Gallagher was demoted after being found guilty at a court martial of bringing discredit to the armed forces by posing for a photograph with the dead body of a captured teenage Isis member.

The same court cleared him of other charges which included killing the severely wounded teenager, shooting civilians and threatening to kill any comrades who reported his behaviour.

The Navy demoted him but the demotion was overturned by Mr Trump.

When military authorities pressed on with plans to remove Gallagher from the unit, Mr Trump tweeted: "The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher's Trident Pin. This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!"

Senior defence officials apparently said they would resign or allow themselves to be fired by pressing on with the disciplinary procedure despite the president's opposition.

However, on Sunday a US official said that the White House would not intervene and that the navy had been informed of this on Friday.

Richard Spencer, the navy secretary, denied threatening to resign but did say the disciplinary procedure against Gallagher would continue.

He acknowledged that the president was able to override the process but said he did not believe that Mr Trump's tweets in themselves constituted a formal order.

He said: "I need a formal order to act. I don't interpret them as a formal order."

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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