President Trump said Monday he is “going to get involved” in settling a heated dispute between Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly and former USS Theodore Roosevelt Capt. Brett Crozier, who was fired last week after writing a letter about a worsening coronavirus outbreak aboard his ship that was later published by the San Francisco Chronicle.
During a press conference at the White House, the president praised both men and said he doesn’t want Capt. Crozier’s career to be ruined because of a “bad day.”
“I’ve heard very good things about the gentleman, both gentlemen,” Mr. Trump said. “I may just get involved … you have two good people and they’re arguing. And I’m good, believe it or not, at settling arguments.”
Capt. Crozier’s “career prior to that was very good,” the president continued, “so I’m going to get involved and see exactly what’s going on there. Because I don’t want to destroy somebody for having a bad day.”
Mr. Trump did not specify exactly how he’ll get involved or what steps he’ll take to settle the controversy.
The president’s comments came on the heels of Mr. Modly addressing the 4,000 crew members of the Roosevelt — which is now docked in Guam after more than 150 sailors tested positive for COVID-19 — and blasting Capt. Crozier.
“If he didn’t think, in my opinion, that this information wasn’t going to get out into the public in this day and information age that we live in, then he was either ‘A’ too naive or too stupid to be commanding officer of a ship like this. The alternative is that he did this on purpose,” Mr. Modly said, according to a transcript and recording of his message over the ship’s public address system.
Democratic lawmakers and other critics blasted Mr. Modly for his remarks. The president cast it as a very “strong statement” but stressed that the “letter shouldn’t have been sent.”
Military officials have argued that in writing a letter that ultimately found its way to the press rather than speaking in private to his superiors, Capt. Crozier sent a signal to adversaries that the U.S. military had been compromised.
Mr. Trump offered a similar assessment.
“It’s unfair to the families on the ship because they get nervous — and it shows weakness,” he said. “And there’s nothing weak about us now.”
After departing the Roosevelt last week, Capt. Crozier tested positive for COVID-19, according to media reports.