- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 19, 2019

President Trump may have pardoned Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher of charges related to killing a terrorist in Iraq, but that doesn’t mean the Navy’s gonna let it slide.

According to a report Tuesday in The New York Times, the Navy plans to remove Chief Gallagher from the elite SEAL team.

Citing “two Navy officials,” The Times reported that Chief Gallagher will be formally notified of the service’s move to oust him from the elite unit at a meeting Wednesday.

Mr. Trump last week pardoned the officer of the one military-law charge of which he had been convicted — posing for a picture over the body of a dead terrorist in Iraq. He had been acquitted of murder and other serious charges, but the photo charge entailed a reduction in rank and possible further sanctions, which Mr. Trump forestalled.

But the SEALs can still take away a member’s Trident — the symbol of his belonging to the elite unit — if a commander no longer has “faith and confidence in the service member’s ability to exercise sound judgment, reliability and personal conduct.”

Rear Adm. Collin Green has drafted a letter ordering that move, The Times reported.

While it doesn’t reduce a sailor’s rank, Trident-removal effectively ends his career with the SEALs.

“To have a commander remove that pin after a guy has gone through so much to earn it, it is pretty much the worst thing you could do,” Chief Eric Deming, a retired SEAL, told The Times. “You are having your whole identity taken away.”

According to The Times, the Navy also has drafted letters removing the Tridents of the three SEAL officers who oversaw Chief Gallagher — Lt. Cmdr. Robert Breisch, Lt. Jacob Portier and Lt. Thomas MacNeil.

The expulsion coming so soon after the president’s pardon could also create trouble for Rear Adm. Green.

“Does Adm. Green have the authority to do it? Yes,” Timothy Parlatore, Chief Gallagher’s attorney, told The Times. “But how tone-deaf is the guy? The commander in chief’s intent is crystal clear, that he wants Eddie left alone.”

Citing “one Navy official who spoke about the specifics of the action,” The Times reported that Rear Adm. Green knows the move could threaten his own career, but he has the support of both Adm. Michael M. Gilday, the chief of naval operations, and Richard V. Spencer, the secretary of the Navy.

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