- The Washington Times - Monday, November 25, 2019

Rep. Adam Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, on Monday lamented the sudden ouster of Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer, saying President Trump needlessly inserted himself into the case of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher.

“It’s terrible. It’s terrible that the president of the United States is inserting himself in this situation,” Mr. Smith, Washington Democrat, said on CNN’s “New Day.” “Yes, he is in the chain of command — he can do what he wants to do. But when you go that far down, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Mr. Spencer submitted his resignation on Sunday afternoon after he had been asked for it by Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper.

Mr. Spencer had publicly clashed with Mr. Trump over the fate of Chief Gallagher, who was demoted this year after being convicted of posing for photographs with the corpse of an Islamic State fighter in Iraq in 2017.

Mr. Trump restored his rank, but Mr. Spencer was still planning to move forward with a review process that could have booted Chief Gallagher from the Navy SEALs.

“You have to respect the leadership chain below you, and the president didn’t do that,” Mr. Smith said. “And I think right now, every service member has to be asking themselves, is my immediate superior … do I have to listen to them?”

“I don’t know the facts here, but neither does the president,” he said. “The president should have let the system play out, and when he doesn’t … it undermines it for everybody [because] they don’t think they have to follow it.”

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