Navy secretary says he will not step down over Navy SEAL disciplinary proceedings


>>Sreenivasan: THERE WERE MULTIPLE NEWS REPORTS TODAY QUOTING UNNAMED OFFICIALS THAT NAVY SECRETARY RICHARD SPENCER AND REAR ADMIRAL COLLIN GREEN, WHO COMMANDS THE SEALS, SAID THEY WOULD RESIGN OR BE FIRED IF THE PRESIDENT ISSUES A WRITTEN ORDER. THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY TOLD NEWSHOUR TODAY HE DID NOT SAY HE WOULD RESIGN OVER A PRESIDENTIAL TWEET OVER WHAT HAPPENS TO NAVY SEAL EDWARD GALLAGHER AND HIS FUTURE WITH THE ELITE UNIT. JOINING ME NOW IS DAVID PHILLIPS, A REPORTER FOR THE “NEW YORK TIMES” WHO HELPED BREAK THIS STORY. SO, FIRST OF ALL, FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVEN’T BEEN FOLLOWING WHAT THE INS AND OUTS HAVE BEEN WITH MR. GALLAGHER, WHERE IS HE IN THE PROCESS OF REMAINING A SEAL OR NOT?>>THIS HAS BEEN A REAL SORT OF WHIPLASH, BACK-AND-FORTH CASE WHERE HE WAS CONVICTED OF A CRIME, BUT THEN THE SENTENCE WAS LESSENED BY THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY. A SHORT TIME LATER, THE PRESIDENT REMOVED THE SENTENCE COMPLETELY, AND THEN THE NAVY SAID, “WELL, NOW WE’RE GOING TO TAKE THIS SEAL’S TRIDENT AWAY.” AND THE TRIDENT IS A PIN THAT EACH OF THEM WEAR THAT DENOTES THEIR MEMBERSHIP IN THE SEALS. SO… SO, FOR THEM, IT’S ESSENTIALLY LIKE BEING CAST OUT OF THE TRIBE.>>Sreenivasan: OKAY, SO HOW UNUSUAL IS IT FOR SOMEONE THIS FAR UP THE CHAIN OF COMMAND, THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY– YOU DON’T GET HIGHER THAN THAT IN THE NAVY– AND THE PERSON WHO COMMANDS ALL OF THE SEALS TO TAKE THIS KIND OF POSITION? AND WHAT ARE THEY SAYING? ARE THEY SAYING THAT, LOOK, IF YOU PUT SOMETHING IN WRITING, THAT CHALLENGES OUR AUTHORITY? IS THAT WHAT IS AT STAKE HERE?>>WELL, LET ME ANSWER THE FIRST QUESTION. HOW UNUSUAL IS THIS FOR A PRESIDENT TO GET INVOLVED AT, LIKE, A RETAIL LEVEL OF OUR ARMY PERSONNEL? EXPERTS AND HISTORIANS THAT I’VE TALKED TO COULD NOT THINK OF ANOTHER EXAMPLE. AND… AND THE… THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THE MILITARY HAS HAD WITH THE PRESIDENT FOR CENTURIES IS, “YES, YOU ARE IN CONTROL, YOU CONTROL STRATEGY, POLITICS, WHEN TO GO TO WAR, THE BIG STUFF, AND WE RUN THE MACHINERY THAT MAKES THAT HAPPEN.” SO, THIS IS… IS REALLY A DEPARTURE FROM THAT. OKAY, WELL, THE SECOND QUESTION IS, WELL, WHAT HAPPENS WHEN AN ADMIRAL OR A SECRETARY OF THE NAVY DISAGREE WITH THE PRESIDENT? AND I THINK THE ANSWER IS, WE DON’T KNOW BECAUSE WE HAVEN’T SEEN THIS VERY MUCH, AND WE’RE WATCHING IT PLAY OUT IN REAL- TIME. NOW, THE PRESIDENT ABSOLUTELY HAS LEGAL AUTHORITY TO TELL THE ADMIRAL WHAT TO DO AND TO DECIDE WHO IS A SEAL AND WHO ISN’T. THE QUESTION IS, WHAT HAPPENS IF THE ADMIRAL WHO REALLY BELIEVES THAT THE RIGHT THING TO DO IS… IS GET THIS CONVICTED CRIMINAL OUT OF THE SEALS, WHAT HAPPENS IF HE… HE REFUSES? WILL THE PRESIDENT RELIEVE HIM? WILL HE RESIGN? I DON’T THINK WE KNOW. AND THE SECRETARY IN HIS COMMENTS HAS CERTAINLY, YOU KNOW, TRIED TO TAMP THINGS DOWN BUT LEFT ROOM FOR THE FACT THAT… THAT BOTH HE AND ADMIRAL GREEN, THE COMMANDER OF THE SEALS, COULD BE GONE SOON.>>Sreenivasan: ALL RIGHT, DAVID PHILLIPS OF THE “NEW YORK TIMES,” A LOT MORE THAT’S GOING TO BE COMING IN THIS STORY. JOINING US VIA SKYPE FROM COLORADO TONIGHT. THANKS SO MUCH.>>YEAH, THANK YOU.

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