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Defense Chief Esper Accepts Navy Secretary's Resignation Over Handling of Virus-Plagued Carrier

Defense Chief Esper Accepts Navy Secretary's Resignation Over Handling of Virus-Plagued Carrier
Acting U.S. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Tuesday, 07 April 2020 04:50 PM

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly offered to resign on Tuesday following an uproar over profanity-infused remarks to the crew of the coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt on Sunday, said a senior defense official with knowledge of the matter, Politico reported.

And according to Reuters, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Thursday afternoon that he had accepted the resignation.

Modly submitted his resignation letter to Esper on Tuesday after meeting with Esper, that official said. 

Esper has towed the administration line since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, including urging military commanders overseas not to make any decisions related to the virus that might surprise the White House or run afoul of Mr. Trump’s messaging, said The New York Times.

But the question is, did Modly take that message from Esper a step too far in harshly rebuked the crew and captain of a nuclear aircraft carrier, the Theodore Roosevelt?

Mr. Modly fired its captain after he wrote a letter imploring officials for help as the coronavirus spread across the vessel. Modly then flew to Guam and berated the carrier’s crew, calling the captain perhaps too stupid to operate such a vessel. The remarks were leaked to the media by crew members, many of whom support Capt. Brett Crozier's concerning the virus.

Modly apologized Monday.

But it appeared to be a case of too little, too late. Even Trump, who has supported the decision to remove the captain, seemed to be backtracking slightly on Monday. “I may look into it,” the president told reporters, “from the standpoint that something should be resolved.”

Esper, who removed Modly's predecessor, had the authority to move Modly out, but reports said he was reluctant to do so without White House approval.

There had been mounting pressure among some lawmakers for Modly to go. 

On Tuesday, for instance, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for his removal despite his apology. 

“Sadly, Acting Secretary Modly’s actions and words demonstrate his failure to prioritize the force protection of our troops,” Pelosi said in a statement, according to Reuters.

The statement by the House leader came after a fellow Democrat, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, reiterated his call for Modly’s removal. Reuters said Smith was not convinced Modly could command respect among Navy members after his remarks ridiculing Crozier, who took command of the carrier in November was was revered by his crew. 

Newsmax wires contributed to this report.

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Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly offered to resign on Tuesday following an uproar over profanity-infused remarks to the crew of the coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt on Sunday, said a senior defense official with knowledge of the matter, Politico...
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2020-50-07
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 04:50 PM
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