I posted just a short while ago on what has all the appearances of an open mutiny against President Trump’s lawful authority as commander in chief being carried out by the US Navy. The short version is that Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher acquitted by a court martial of all offenses but one, that of posing for a photo with a deceased terrorist sh**bag. The conviction resulted in him being reduced one grade. President Trump pardoned him and ordered him restored in rank. The admiral commanding Navy Special Warfare Command decided to say f*** you to President Trump and ordered a board convened with the express purpose of revoking Chief Gallagher’s Special Warfare qualification. President Trump told them to stop. Someone went to the New York Times and told them that the SecNav, Richard Spencer, and the Navy Special Warfare Command commander, Admiral Collin Green, had decided they would not comply with the President’s order and would force the President to either back down or fire them. That, as I pointed out, is textbook mutiny.
Now the news is breaking that Spencer has been forced to resign:
Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper asked for the resignation of Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer on Sunday after losing confidence in him over his handling of the case of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq, the Pentagon said.
Spencer’s resignation came in the wake of the controversial case of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was accused of war crimes on a 2017 deployment. He was acquitted of murder but convicted in July of posing with the corpse of a captive.
Esper asked for Spencer’s resignation after learning that he had privately proposed to White House officials that if they did not interfere with proceedings against Gallagher, then Spencer would ensure that Gallagher was able to retire as a Navy SEAL, with his Trident insignia.
Spencer’s private proposal to the White House — which he did not share with Esper over the course of several conversations about the matter — contradicted his public position on the Gallagher case, chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.
Esper and Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, learned of Spencer’s private offer to the White House when they spoke with President Trump on Friday, Hoffman said.
What we can surmise it this:
First, the stories about Admiral Green refusing to acknowledge the order by the president appear to be true. And that is a huge problem.
Second, Spencer seems to have been too clever by half. It looks like he was recommending that the White House let Green have his tantrum and convene his board. Spencer, in return for letting Green win this public penis-measuring contest, was going to work behind the scenes to ensure the board did not revoke Gallagher’s SEAL trident. For reasons best known to him, he decided not to tell his boss about it. I take that back, it is easy to see why you wouldn’t want your boss to know that your were the brainiac behind a scam like this.
Third, when the SecDef, Mark Esper, met with Trump on the issue he was blindsided about the deal. This didn’t make him look very smart or Spencer look terribly smart or loyal.
The reference to the deal having “contradicted [Spencer’s] public position on the Gallagher case” gives the impression that Esper didn’t really want this fight and may have felt like he was dragged into it by Spencer as some kind of “loyalty test.”
What we don’t know is where Esper is on this and we don’t know how the White House took the proposed deal by Spencer (and the AP story that Trump was standing down hints that a fix might hae been in) or how they will react to it being blown up. We also don’t know the extent to which Admiral Green was a party to this charade. We don’t know if Esper blew this deal up because it was the right thing to do or because he, too, is interested in pushing this #Resistance nonsense. We can surmise that President Trump at least acquiesced in this action…in fact, you can make a case that Esper is carrying out Trump’s orders.
What we do know is that we do have an admiral in San Diego who feels he has more authority that the commander-in-chief and we know that he has so cowed Spencer and, presumably, other Navy brass that Spencer concocted a rather transparent sham that would have ultimately been exposed and damaged both Trump and the Navy chain of command to avoid having to remind Green of his place in the food chain. That, like everything else in this story, is not a good look for anyone.