President Donald Trump appeared to upend a Navy SEAL administrative board days before it started Thursday tweeting that the Navy will not strip a decorated SEAL of his coveted trident pin in the wake of his court-martial conviction for posing with the corpse of an enemy combatant.
In a tweet, Trump said “The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin. This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!”
The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin. This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 21, 2019
The tweet came an hour after one of Gallagher’s civilian attorneys, Timothy Parlatore, appeared on Fox & Friends decrying the Navy’s move to review Gallagher’s SEAL qualification.
On the morning Fox News show, known to be a favorite of Trump’s, the attorney called Rear Adm. Collin Green’s move to review Gallagher that of a “coward.”
Green is the two-star admiral in charge of Naval Special Warfare Command.
Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher was charged with killing a wounded ISIS captive and shooting civilians during his time in Iraq in 2017. At the end of his court-martial, a jury acquitted him of the most serious allegations and convicted him of the offense of posing for photos with the body of the deceased fighter.
A military jury sentenced Gallagher to four months’ confinement, which he served before trial, and reduced his rank to petty officer 1st class, or E-6.
On Friday, President Donald Trump restored Gallagher’s rank to E-7, or chief petty officer. The same day, Trump pardoned two Army service members accused of war crimes. His action on Gallagher’s behalf was not a pardon or an exoneration.
On Tuesday, news broke that the Navy SEALs were launching a review of four SEALs involved in the war crimes case — Gallagher, Lt. Cmdr. Robert Breisch, Lt. Jacob Portier and Lt. Thomas MacNeil.
While Gallagher’s review appears to be at an end, it was unclear Thursday morning what awaits the other three SEALs. Naval Special Warfare Command did not immediately return requests for comment about the fate of those SEALs or Parlatore’s comments about Green.
Gallagher is the only of the four convicted of a crime. Portier was charged, but the Navy dropped those charges as it launched a review of its Judge Advocate General Corps in August.
MacNeil, Gallagher’s platoon commander in Iraq, testified at Gallagher’s court-martial that he drank alcohol with enlisted SEALs during their 2017 deployment.
Breish was the SEAL troop commander during that deployment. His testimony about when he knew about the allegations against Gallagher at Gallagher’s court-martial conflicted with that of other SEALs.
Gallagher’s legal status remains up in the air after being restored to the rank of chief and having his status as a SEAL protected. Previously, Parlatore said Gallagher just wanted his rank restored and to be allowed to retire. On Thursday, Parlatore told the Union-Tribune all that was left was for Gallagher’s record to be expunged of his court-martial conviction.
However, Parlatore said he was not filing a request to have that done yet.
“If POTUS just does it, I don’t need to,” Parlatore said in a text message.
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