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AP Report: White House backs down in SEAL Gallagher / Navy dispute – will let review board proceed

Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher and President Donald Trump (Photos courtesy Andrea Gallagher and the White House)
November 24, 2019

After President Donald Trump initially tweeted to block the Navy from removing Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher from the SEALs, the White House has signaled it will now let the case play out.

The White House issued new guidance, advising the Navy to proceed with a review board considering whether Gallagher remain with his Navy SEAL unit, according to an unnamed Navy official who spoke to the Associated Press.

The apparent change of heart in the Trump White House could resolve a dispute between Trump and the Navy, in which they will decide if Gallagher will remain a SEAL. The Navy review of Gallagher’s case followed a decision by Trump to reinstate Gallagher at his full rank of Chief Petty Officer after the SEAL was demoted for taking pictures alongside a dead ISIS fighter.

Gallagher had previously been cleared of charges he murdered an ISIS captive, though he was still reduced to the rank of Petty Officer First Class for appearing alongside the dead ISIS member.

“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!,” Trump tweeted Thursday.

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On Saturday, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer denied allegations he would resign if Trump took action over Gallagher’s case. Spencer said he had not determined Trump’s critical tweet to be a formal order to stop the case from proceeding.

Though Spencer may have a differing view of the Gallagher’s case, he said obeying the orders of the President is also an important aspect of good order and discipline.

“The president of the United States is the commander in chief. He’s involved in every aspect of government and he can make decisions and give orders as appropriate,” Spencer said.

Trump could still intervene in the decision against Gallagher.

The Trident Review Board was set to begin Dec. 2. The board is used to determine whether a SEAL can retain their status within the Navy’s special warfare community. The loss of a Trident pin marks the end of one’s SEAL status, though they could still remain in the Navy.

Gallagher’s lawyers have accused the Navy of moving forward with the Trident review as a retaliation for Trump’s pardon.

“They could have taken my Trident at any time they wanted,” Gallagher said in an appearance on Fox & Friends. “Now they’re trying to take it after the president restored my rank.

Gallagher has reportedly filed a complaint against Rear Adm. Collin Green, the Naval Special Warfare commander, claiming Green has been insubordinate to defy Trump’s pardoning actions.