Trump confirms US Navy secretary forced out over SEAL case

Robie de Guzman   •   November 25, 2019   •   287

A handout file photo made available by the US Navy shows US Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer addressing the crew of USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) via the ship’s 1MC during a visit to the ship at sea near Newport News, Virginia, USA, 27 October 2019 (issued 25 November 2019).

WASHINGTON – The United States president confirmed Sunday that the Pentagon has asked for the resignation of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer over his management of the case of a Navy SEAL who was demoted for misconduct.

In a statement, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said Defense Secretary Mark Esper had requested Spencer’s resignation 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.”

In July, Gallagher was convicted for illegally posing next to the body of the dead jihadist for photographs during his 2017 deployment in Iraq, and acquitted him of a murder charge for allegedly killing an injured captive.

The case has attracted the attention of US President Donald Trump, who last week expressed his support for Gallagher and on Sunday night confirmed Spencer had been “terminated.”

“Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer’s services have been terminated by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper,” Trump said on Twitter on Sunday night, adding “Eddie will retire peacefully with all of the honors that he has earned, including his Trident Pin.”

The Trident pin is the badge that marks membership to the elite Navy SEALs.

Last week, the New York Times reported that Spencer and Naval Special Warfare Commander Rear Admiral Collin Green had threatened to resign if the Navy complied with Trump’s request to revoke Gallagher’s demotion, although Spencer denied the news.

Trump said Sunday he “was not pleased with the way that Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s trial was handled by the Navy.”

“He was treated very badly but, despite this, was completely exonerated on all major charges. I then restored Eddie’s rank,” Trump added.

In its statement, the Pentagon said that Esper spoke with the “commander in Chief” on Friday about the Gallagher case and found out that Spencer had privately proposed to the White House, contrary to his public position, to restore Gallagher’s rank and allow him to retire with the Trident pin.

The Department of Defense spokesman added that recently during a conversation between the two, Spencer never informed Esper of his private proposal to the White House.

In the statement, Esper said he is “deeply troubled by this conduct shown by a senior DOD official.”

“Unfortunately, as a result I have determined that Secretary Spencer no longer has my confidence to continue in his position,” Esper said.

Following recent events, Esper has also ordered that Gallagher retain his Trident pin.

Trump said that “Admiral and now Ambassador to Norway Ken Braithwaite will be nominated by me to be the new Secretary of the Navy.” EFE-EPA

ssa /tw

Trump vows to send troops into cities if needed to quell protest violence

UNTV News   •   June 2, 2020

President Donald Trump said on Monday (June 1) he was deploying thousands of heavily armed soldiers and law enforcement to stop violence in the U.S. capital and vowed to do the same in other cities if mayors and governors fail to regain control of the streets.

“Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled,” Trump said in remarks at the White House Rose Garden as authorities dispersed protesters with tear gas just blocks away.

“If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

The demonstrations, largely peaceful during the day but turning violent after dark, have erupted over the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American who died in Minneapolis police custody after being pinned beneath a white officer’s knee for nearly nine minutes.

Dozens of cities across the United States remain under curfews at levels not seen since riots that broke out following the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

The National Guard was deployed in 23 states and Washington, D.C.

One person was killed in Louisville, Kentucky, overnight where police and National Guard troops returned fire while trying to disperse a crowd. Police in Chicago fielded some 10,000 calls for looting, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

The unrest, which erupted as the country was easing sweeping lockdowns to stop the spread of the coronavirus, began with peaceful protests over Floyd’s death.

Derek Chauvin, a since-fired 44-year-old officer, has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. (Reuters)

(Production by Katharine Jackson)

Trump questions mail-in ballots, Twitter fact-checks

UNTV News   •   May 27, 2020

Twitter on Tuesday (May 26) for the first time prompted readers to check the facts in tweets sent by U.S. President Donald Trump, warning his claims about mail-in ballots were false and had been debunked by fact-checkers.

In a tweet responding to the company’s move, Trump accused the company of interfering in the 2020 presidential election. “Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!” he said.

Trump on Tuesday also said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper needs to decide within a week whether the Republican National Convention can take place with full attendance in North Carolina in late August as planned.

“We need a fast decision from the governor,” Trump told reporters at a Rose Garden news conference on negotiations with pharmaceutical companies over insulin for U.S. seniors on Medicare. “If he feels that he’s not going to do it, all he has to do is tell us and then we’ll have to pick another location, and I will tell you a lot of locations want it.”

The convention is set to start on August 24 in Charlotte.

In the news conference, Trump also repeated his claims that mail-in ballots would lead to fraud.

Earlier in the day, Twitter placed a notification fact-checking Trump’s tweets claiming that mail-in ballots will be “substantially fraudulent” and result in a “rigged election.”

The notification, which displays a blue exclamation mark underneath the tweets, prompts readers to “get the facts about mail-in ballots” and directs them to a page with news articles and information from fact-checkers debunking the claim. (Reuters)

(Production: Arlene Eiras)

Trump threatens permanent freeze of WHO funding, to weigh U.S. membership

UNTV News   •   May 19, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump threatened on Monday (May 18) to permanently halt funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) if it did not commit to improvements within 30 days, and to reconsider the membership of the United States in the body.

Trump suspended U.S. contributions to the WHO last month, accusing it of promoting China’s “disinformation” about the coronavirus outbreak, although WHO officials denied the accusation and China said it was transparent and open.

“If the WHO does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the WHO permanent and reconsider our membership,” Trump told its chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a letter posted on Twitter.

Earlier, Trump said the WHO had “done a very sad job” in its handling of the virus and he would make a decision soon on U.S. funding.

In his letter Trump said the only way forward for the body was if it could demonstrate independence from China, adding that his administration had already started reform discussions with Tedros.

On Monday, the WHO said an independent review of the global virus response would begin as soon as possible and it received backing and a hefty pledge of funds from China, in the spotlight as the origin of the pandemic. (Reuters)

(Production: Bob Mezan)

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