It’s good to be the boss. The commander in chief of the armed forces, Donald Trump, issued what appeared to be an order to the Navy over Twitter today. (What a time to be alive!) “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!”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 21, 2019
The last few days, pundits and news people have been speculating about what the Navy could do to Gallagher despite being acquitted of the crimes he was accused of. The Navy Times reports,
Military prosecutors had accused Gallagher, 40, of stabbing to death a seriously wounded Islamic State prisoner of war on May 3, 2017 in a SEAL compound near Mosul, but a military panel composed mostly of combat-tested Marine officers disagreed and acquitted the chief.
Several junior petty officers in Alpha Platoon, SEAL Team 7 also alleged that he had shot at least two civilians from a sniper perch and later tried to cover up his actions, but jurors tossed those charges, too.
Gallagher’s defense team had savaged the witnesses in court as liars bent on usurping a demanding chief they didn’t like and making sure he failed to receive a Silver Star commendation for battlefield heroism.
And in the end a panel of his peers agreed with Chief Gallagher, not a handful of junior SEALs.
On June 21, the prosecution suffered a blow when their star witness, SEAL medic Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Corey Scott, confessed on the stand that he, not Gallagher, ended the detainee’s life by plugging his breathing tube, a mercy killing so the fighter wouldn’t be tortured to death by Iraqi security forces.
A spotter for Gallagher when the chief was a sniper in Iraq — Special Operator 1st Class Joshua Graffam — also told jurors that a Father’s Day shooting in 2017 was a good kill, not a war crime.
After the acquittal, Trump reversed the decision of the court to drop Gallagher in rank for posing for an inappropriate photo. The Navy wasn’t finished with him and decided to review his status as a SEAL and called him to appear before a review board. An “anonymous source” informed NBC News of the internal revolt against the president’s decision.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Rear Adm. Collin P. Green, commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command, would issue an order Wednesday directing that a Trident review board be convened to determine whether to withdraw the emblem from Gallagher
But the armed forces answer to one man, and he sits in the White House. The president has made it very clear that the Navy is not to do any such thing and has ordered them to leave Gallagher alone. It should be interesting to see if Green refuses to drop this bone and puts himself at risk of being replaced by his commander. If there’s one line Donald Trump has a lot of practice delivering, it’s “you’re fired.”
Megan Fox is the author of “Believe Evidence; The Death of Due Process from Salome to #MeToo.” Follow on Twitter @MeganFoxWriter