Despite the fact that President Donald Trump pardoned Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher for charges related to killing a terrorist in Iraq, the Navy appears set to dismiss him anyway.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that the Navy will remove Gallagher from the elite SEAL teams, chitin “two Navy officials.”
The Times added that Navy officials were set to notify Gallagher during a meeting Wednesday.
Last week, the president pardoned the non-commissioned officer of the one military-law-related charge on which he had been convicted: Posing over the body of a dead terrorist.
Gallagher was acquitted of murder and other serious charges. However, the photo charge involved a reduction in rank and other possible sanctions, but the pardon stopped those actions.
Nevertheless, SEALs can still take away a member’s Trident — the prestigious symbol of the teams — if a commander no longer has “faith and confidence in the service member’s ability to exercise sound judgment, reliability and personal conduct.”
The Times reported that Rear Adm. Collin Green has drafted a letter ordering that move.
Though Gallagher’s rank will not be reduced, taking away his Trident will effectively end his SEAL career.
“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.
While Green has the authority to rescind Gallagher’s Trident, doing so immediately after the commander-in-chief pardoned him could create trouble for the admiral.
“Does Adm. Green have the authority to do it? Yes,” Timothy Parlatore, Chief Gallagher’s attorney, told the paper. “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 Green knows the move could threaten his own career.
However, the paper claimed that he has the support of both Adm. Michael M. Gilday, the chief of naval operations, and Richard V. Spencer, the secretary of the Navy.
It’s not clear that President Trump will take action against Green.