He thought wrong.
On Sunday, after a weekend of rancorous rhetoric claiming that he was going to overrule a Trident review board’s judgment on the Eddie Gallagher case – despite his acquittal and actions by the prosecution that really should have resulted in a mistrial – and strip him of rank and his Trident pin, a symbol of the Navy SEALs, Spencer was, in a word, fired by the Secretary of Defense.
“Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper has asked for the resignation of Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer after losing trust and confidence in him regarding his lack of candor over conversations with the White House involving the handling of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement Sunday.
The specific chain of events that led to the firing included a deal that Spencer tried to cut, apparently, that did not go over well with his bosses.
Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley spoke to Trump on Friday with the intention of persuading the president to allow the Trident review board to go forward with its inquiry. Instead, Esper learned that Spencer previously and privately proposed to the White House – contrary to Spencer’s public position – to restore Gallagher’s rank and let him retire with his Trident pin, the Pentagon said. When Esper recently asked, Spencer confirmed that he’d never informed the defense secretary about his private proposal.
Spencer asked Trump to let the Navy review board go forward, promising that the board would, in the end, allow Gallagher to keep his Trident and rank, effectively alluding to his willingness to fix the results of the board usually comprised of the defendant’s peers, a senior U.S. official told Fox News. Trump rejected the offer and said, “no, we’re done,” prompting the president to write a series of tweets doubling down on his efforts to halt the review, the official added.