Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly Resigns over Crozier Controversy

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 03: Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill December 03, 2019 in Washington, DC. Military secretaries and members of the Joint Chiefs testified about a new GAO report about ongoing reports of …
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Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned Tuesday over a controversy involving the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced.

“This morning I accepted Secretary Modly’s resignation. With the approval of the President, I am appointing current Army Undersecretary Jim McPherson as acting Secretary of the Navy,” Esper announced on Twitter.

Esper said Modly resigned on his own accord, “putting the Navy and the Sailors above self” so that the Navy could move forward. Esper said he briefed President Trump on his conversation with Modly.

Esper later tweeted that McPherson is a retired Navy admiral with a distinguished 26-year naval career, who also served as the Navy judge advocate general and general counsel of the Navy.

Modly was expected to be replaced by former U.S. Ambassador to Norway Kenneth Braithwaite upon his confirmation by the Senate, but his early departure came after he fired the commander of the Roosevelt, Navy Capt. Brett Crozier, last week.

Crozier had written a memo on March 30 that promptly leaked to media calling for help getting his sailors off the ship and onto Guam amid an outbreak on the carrier.

Modly believed that Crozier intended for his memo to leak — he had sent it to more than 20 people over an unclassified and unsecured system.

Top Pentagon leaders said they backed Crozier’s decision, and President Trump said he backed Modly’s decision “100 percent.”

However, after videos showed sailors cheering Crozier as he walked off his ship, Democrats seized upon the issue to claim that the Trump administration did not care about sailors’ wellbeing.

Modly on Sunday flew to Guam to speak to sailors aboard the ship and defend his decision. He blasted Crozier, saying that he was either too “naive or too stupid” to command the carrier or that he meant for his memo to leak.

The remarks prompted Democrats to call for his resignation.

On Monday, the Democrat leader of the House Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith (D-WA), called for Modly’s resignation, and on Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) followed suit. Approximately an hour later, Modly reportedly resigned.

Modly said in a resignation letter that it had been the “honor of my life” to serve as under secretary of the Navy and acting Navy Secretary for the last five months.

“I will be forever grateful for my opportunity, and the blessing, to be part of it,” he said.

 

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