The Navy wants to boot the SEAL who President Trump pardoned in a high-profile war crimes case.
Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher was scheduled to appear Wednesday morning before Navy officials, who are expected to tell Gallagher of the plan to oust him from the SEALs, the New York Times reported, citing anonymous Navy officials. That could put the SEALs’ leadership at odds with Trump, who just pardoned Gallagher from any judicial punishment last week.
Gallagher was initially charged with killing civilians and other war crimes, but a military jury convicted him of just one minor count — bringing discredit on the armed forces — for posing with the corpse of a teenage ISIS fighter. But last week Trump reversed the order and restored Gallagher’s rank.
Navy officials, meanwhile, had moved to strip Gallagher of his SEAL status earlier this month but were held up by White House clearance that never came, the Times reported. Now, SEALS commander Rear Adm. Collin Green reportedly has authorization from the Navy to hand Gallagher a formal letter notifying him of the plan to boot him.
Kicking out a SEAL is signified by taking their Trident pin, something the Navy has done more than 150 times since 2011. The decision about whether to take Gallagher’s Trident will ultimately rest with a review board. Under Navy regulations, leadership can take the pin when a commander loses “confidence in the service member’s ability to exercise sound judgment, reliability, and personal conduct.”
The process of taking Gallagher’s Trident is expected to begin Wednesday. The move doesn’t have much practical effect, since Gallagher planned to leave the Navy soon. Losing the Trident doesn’t reduce a SEAL’s rank, but it’s considered a disgraceful end to a career.
Letters have also reportedly been drafted to begin the process of taking the Tridents of three officers who oversaw Gallagher — Lt. Cmdr. Robert Breisch, Lt. Jacob Portier, and Lt. Thomas MacNeil.
The accusations against Gallagher made headlines across the world. He was accused of killing a prisoner of war with a hunting knife and firing his sniper rifle at citizens, including a woman in a flower hijab and an elderly man.
Trump congratulated Gallagher and his family when he was acquitted of most of the charges.
“You have been through much together,” he wrote. “Glad I could help!”
Cover: In this July 2, 2019, file photo, Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher leaves a military court on Naval Base San Diego in San Diego. Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher has sued two of his former attorneys and a military legal defense nonprofit. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)