Appearing on “Fox & Friends” with hosts Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, and Emily Compagno, the former commander of the USS Cole said that whether President Trump “should have intervened” is a “moot point,” accusing Spencer of undertaking actions that lacked “integrity and ethics.”
“At the end of the day, when lives are at stake, we need military leadership on both the military and political side that has integrity. That was lacking in this case and for that alone, I think Secretary Spence should have been fired,” said Lippold.
This month, the president restored Gallagher’s rank and ordered that the Navy halt its internal review of Gallagher’s actions from 2017. Following the president’s actions, controversy continued to swirl around whether the Navy would strip him of his Trident pin, ousting him from the prestigious SEALs.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley spoke to the president on Friday with the intention of persuading the president to allow the Trident review board to go forward with its inquiry.
However, Esper then learned that Navy Secretary Richard Spencer had previously and privately proposed to the White House – contrary to Spencer’s public position – to restore Gallagher’s rank and let him retire with his Trident pin, the Pentagon said.
Spencer asked the president to let the Navy review board go forward, promising that the board would, in the end, allow Gallagher to keep his Trident and rank, effectively alluding to his willingness to fix the results of the board usually comprised of the defendant’s peers, a senior U.S. official told Fox News. The president rejected the offer and said, “no, we’re done,” prompting the president to write a series of tweets doubling down on his efforts to halt the review, the official added.
Esper then released Spencer saying that he was “deeply troubled” by his conduct and “unfortunately, as a result, [he had] determined that Secretary Spencer no longer [had his] confidence to continue in his position.”
Esper ordered that Gallagher be allowed to keep his Trident pin, noting that it would be nearly impossible for him to get a fair hearing from the military in light of recent events, a senior official said. The president then announced that Ambassador to Norway Kenneth Braithwaite was nominated by Esper to be Spencer’s successor.
Defending his conduct, Spencer told CBS News that Trump doesn’t “understand the full definition of a warfighter” and the high standards soldiers must be held to. He said “good order and discipline” is the backbone of the U.S. military.
A Navy spokesman announced Monday that Gallagher will retire from active duty and will not take part in a review board over his conduct.
“Look, right now as far as I’m concerned, when you look at what the Secretary did: every officer — especially the admirals — that condoned that unethical process of a review board that was about to be convened, their retirement papers should be on the desk as well because we can’t afford that in the military,” Lippold stated.
“I’ve lived with the consequences of political decisions affecting a career.”
Fox News’ Vandana Rambaran, Andrew O’Reilly Lucas Tomlinson, Jennifer Griffin, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.