WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday blasted the U.S. Navy’s handling of a U.S. Navy SEAL whose rank he recently restored following a court martial, saying he would not allow the service to remove his SEALS status.
“The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin. This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!” Trump said in a post on Twitter.
A military jury convicted Gallagher of illegally posing with an Islamic State detainee’s corpse while deployed to Iraq in 2017 but acquitted him of murder, prompting a demotion in rank and pay but not prison time.
Trump last week restored his rank and pay, and pardoned two Army officers who were separately accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.
U.S. officials and Gallagher’s lawyer told Reuters on Tuesday that Navy officials were considering whether to remove him from the Navy’s special operations force.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said at the time that Gallagher and three other SEALs were likely to be notified on Wednesday that they must appear before a board that will decide whether they should be stripped of their SEAL status.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Toby Chopra and Bernadette Baum)