Home / Tech / Trump reportedly wanted to fire the US Navy captain who pleaded for 'immediate' coronavirus help

Trump reportedly wanted to fire the US Navy captain who pleaded for 'immediate' coronavirus help

President Donald Trump, left, sits with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, during a full honors welcoming ceremony for Esper at the Pentagon, Thursday, July 25, 2019, in Washington.

  • Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly reportedly told a colleague that President Donald Trump wanted to fire the commander of an aircraft carrier who warned of the coronavirus outbreak aboard his ship.
  • According to a Washington Post column, Modly told the colleague he wanted to relieve Capt. Brett Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, whose four-page letter urging for a “political solution” was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • Modly was reportedly advised by military leaders, including the Chief of Naval Operations Michael Gilday, that the decision should be left with the military.
  • Capt. Crozier, who was fired, reportedly positive for coronavirus, according to reports Sunday. 
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The acting secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly reportedly told a colleague that President Donald Trump wanted to fire the commander of an aircraft carrier who, in a leaked letter, warned military leaders of the coronavirus outbreak aboard his ship.

According to a Washington Post column, Modly told the person he wanted to relieve Capt. Brett Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, whose four-page letter urging for a “political solution” and an “immediate and decisive action” was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle. It was not immediately clear how the letter was leaked and the Defense Department has launched an investigation.

Modly said that Trump, referring to Crozier, “wants him fired,” the colleague said, according to The Post. The remark was allegedly made on Wednesday, one day after The Chronicle published the contents of the letter.

Modly was reportedly advised by military leaders, including the Chief of Naval Operations Michael Gilday, that the decision should be left with the military. Gilday, along with defense secretary Mark Esper and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, leaned towards waiting for the investigation to play out.

Despite the military’s counsel, Modly proceeded with firing Crozier on Thursday. His reasoning was that Crozier should not have sent a “blast out” letter by email to 20 or 30 recipients and that there was a “proper way of handling” his concerns.

“The letter was sent over non-secure, unclassified email even though that ship possesses some of the most sophisticated communications and encryption equipment in the fleet,” Modly said Thursday.

Trump indicated on Saturday he was not involved in Modly’s decision but that he supported it “100%.”

“Well, I don’t know much about it,” Trump said during a press conference. “The letter was a [four] page letter from a captain. And the letter was all over the place. That’s not appropriate.”

“I thought it looked terrible, to be honest with you,” Trump added. “Now, they made their decision, I didn’t make the decision.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper also defended Crozier’s removal, saying on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, Modly “made a very tough decision.”

“It was based on his view that he had lost faith and confidence in the captain based on his actions. It was supported by Navy leadership,” Esper said. “And I think it’s just another example of how we hold leaders accountable for their actions.”

Crozier left his ship amid resounding applause from his crew members. On Sunday, the New York Times reported he was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. Around 150 service members of the USS Theodore Roosevelt’s crew of over 4,800 people tested positive for the virus as of Sunday, the US Navy said.

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