Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper asked for the resignation of Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer on Sunday after falling confidence in him over his treatment of the case of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq, the Pentagon said.
Spencer’s resignation occurred in the track of the contentious case of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was implicated of war crimes on a 2017 deployment. He was absolved of murder but condemned in July of posturing with the remains of a captive.
Esper asked for Spencer’s resignation after discovering that he had secretly offered to White House officials that if they did not meddle with proceedings against Gallagher, then Spencer would ensure that Gallagher was able to retire as a Navy SEAL, with his Trident insignia.
Spencer’s recommendation to the White House — which he did not share with Esper over the way of several discussions about the topic — contradicted his known position on the Gallagher case, chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman announced in a statement.