Newt Gingrich said Tuesday that President Trump chose to “overlook” criminal activity by recently restoring convicted Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher to chief petty officer, the enlisted rate he had prior to his conviction.
Mr. Gingrich, a former speaker of the House of Representatives, made the remark on Fox News while discussing Mr. Trump’s recent decision to restore Chief Gallagher’s rate from that of petty officer first class. Chief Gallagher had been demoted as part of the punishment for his having posed with the corpse of an enemy combatant.
“Here’s a guy who dedicated his entire life to defending his country, who represented one of the most elite units we have. Let’s say he made a mistake. The question the president is saying is, is that a big enough mistake to take away his symbol – the trident – of being a SEAL, and in effect have him retire in dishonor – which it would have been among his colleagues. Or, can we overlook this one thing, because this guy gave us years of very hard service in very dangerous places? The president comes down in favor of – you know, the president wanted favors the morale of the warfighter over the morale of the bureaucrat,” Mr. Gingrich said on “Fox & Friends.”
“It’s a very straightforward question,” Mr. Gingrich added.
Gallagher was court-martialed on several charges related to his deployment overseas, including counts of attempted murder, premeditated murder and aggravated assault of civilians, among others.
He was found not guilty in July of all accounts except for one related to posing with the corpse of a teenager fighter for the Islamic State terrorist group, also known as ISIS, and he was subsequently demoted from chief petty officer to petty officer first class before Mr. Trump intervened over the weekend and said that Gallagher would retire with the Trident pin that symbolizes his membership in the Navy SEALS.
“He’s making a very clear statement to the men and woman and uniform that the days of the Obama administration valuing lawyers over fighters and crippling people by tying their hands and giving us rules of engagement that make no sense are over,” Mr. Gingrich said about Mr. Trump on “Fox & Friends.”
Mr. Gingrich, 76, represented Georgia in Congress as a Republican from 1979 through 1999, with the last four spent as House speaker. He is currently a contributor for Fox News.