Washington (dpa) – US Defence Secretary Mark Esper has asked the head of the US Navy to resign after he allegedly made a secret proposal to the White House to resolve the controversial case of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq, the Pentagon said on Sunday.
In a statement, the Pentagon said that Esper had asked for Navy secretary Richard Spencer’s resignation over his “his lack of candor,” in dealing with NAVY Seal Edward Gallagher’s case.
Gallagher was found not-guilty this year of shooting civilians, murdering a captive Islamic State fighter, and threatening to kill his comrades during a 2017 deployment.
He was convicted of posing with a corpse, in a case that saw many Republicans rally around the soldier.
US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he would not allow the Navy to demote Gallagher’s SEAL status, one of the US military’s elite special operations forces, after the Navy said it was under review.
The statement said that the call for Spencer’s resignation came after the Pentagon learned that he had made a private proposal to the White House to restore Gallagher’s rank.
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said Spencer’s private proposal was in contrast to his public statements and that Esper had lost “trust and confidence” in him.
Spencer had publicly disagreed with Trump over the handling of Gallagher.
Hoffman added that Esper ended the review of Gallagher’s status and ordered that the soldier to be allowed to retire as a Navy SEAL.
While asking Spencer to resign, Esper also announced Spencer’s replacement.
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