The controversy over Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher and then-Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer dates back to a series of events that unfolded primarily in 2019.
Edward Gallagher was a Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy SEALs with a decorated career. He faced allegations of war crimes, which led to a high-profile court-martial. The charges against him included the murder of a wounded ISIS prisoner, shooting unarmed civilians, and threatening fellow SEALs if they reported his actions. In July 2019, Gallagher was acquitted of most of the charges but was found guilty of posing with a corpse, resulting in a demotion.
In November 2019, President Donald Trump intervened and restored Gallagher’s rank, a decision that sparked controversy and drew mixed reactions. Some praised the president for standing up for a military service member, while others criticized the move as undermining military justice and eroding discipline within the ranks.
This is where then-Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer, became involved. He disagreed with Trump’s decision and pushed for a review of Gallagher’s case, seeking to determine if Gallagher should maintain his status as a Navy SEAL and retain his Trident pin—a symbol of membership in the elite SEAL community. Publicly, Spencer appeared to support Trump’s decision, but he was reportedly working behind the scenes to ensure that the review process would proceed.
Ultimately, the situation escalated, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper asked for Spencer’s resignation, citing a loss of trust and confidence due to his handling of the Gallagher case. According to Esper, Spencer had gone around him and proposed a secret agreement with the White House to allow Gallagher to retire as a SEAL with his Trident pin, which contradicted the public position he had taken.
In summary, the controversy around Edward Gallagher and Richard Spencer’s involvement stemmed from Gallagher’s alleged war crimes, the intervention of President Trump, and the subsequent handling of the case by Navy leadership. The situation led to both public debate over the role of the president in military justice decisions and the resignation of Richard Spencer as Secretary of the Navy.
In November of 2019, The Black Vault requested all documents that had the keyword “Gallagher” in the mailbox of Richard Spencer.
The below are the results:
Richard Spencer Emails: Gallagher [166 Pages, 2.2MB]
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