'I hate seeing bad things happen': Trump approves of Navy secretary's resignation, says it's a 'really unselfish thing'

Esper Milley Trump

Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS

President Donald Trump flanked by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Army Gen. Mark Milley.

  • President Donald Trump criticized Capt. Brett Crozier's actions on Tuesday, shortly after the acting Navy secretary, who fired the commander, resigned from his post.
  • "He made a mistake, but he had a bad day," Trump said of Crozier. "I hate seeing bad things happen, man made a mistake. But you shouldn't be writing letters, and you're in the military - you're a captain of a great ship."
  • Trump said acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly acted responsibly by resigning.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump criticized the former commander of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier on Tuesday, shortly after the acting Navy secretary, who fired the commander, resigned from his post.

"The whole thing was very unfortunate," Trump said to reporters during a press conference.Advertisement

Trump, referring to the commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, added that he "didn't have to be Earnest Hemingway" by writing an urgent letter warning about the coronavirus aboard his ship, which was eventually leaked to the news media.

"He made a mistake, but he had a bad day," Trump added about Capt. Brett Crozier. "I hate seeing bad things happen, man made a mistake. But you shouldn't be writing letters, and you're in the military - you're a captain of a great ship."

Trump said acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly acted responsibly by resigning from his post, which was accepted by senior Defense Department officials.
Advertisement

"I had heard he did because he didn't want to cause any disturbance for our country because he didn't want to resign," Trump said, referring to Modly. "I wouldn't have asked him. I don't know him. I didn't speak to him. But he did that I just think to end that problem. And in really many ways, that was a really unselfish thing for him to do."

modly

US Navy

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

In a resignation letter first obtained by USNI, Modly said it was "with a heavy heart" that he voluntarily left the Navy.Advertisement

"It has been the honor of my life to serve as the Under Secretary of the Navy and for the last five months, the Acting Secretary of the Navy," Modly's letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper said. "I am thankful for the confidence both you and President Trump have expressed in me to discharge these weighty duties on behalf of our Sailors, Marines, and the American people."

Modly's resignation comes one day after the leak of a private speech to the sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, where a crew of over 4,800 service members dealt with a coronavirus outbreak. As of Sunday, over 150 service members aboard the ship, as well Crozier, had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Modly fired Crozier days after he wrote a four-page letter urging his Navy colleagues to implement a "political solution" and take "immediate and decisive action" as the ship dealt with a coronavirus outbreak.Advertisement

The letter was eventually leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle, which published its contents last Tuesday. It was not immediately clear how the letter found its way to the newspaper, but the Defense Department said it launched an investigation.

In his speech to the sailors of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Modly accused Crozier of violating military protocols and circumventing the chain of command by sending the letter to a group of people. He said there was a "proper way" for Crozier to handle his concerns, including allowing his immediate supervisor, who was aboard his ship, to address them.

The firing was widely criticized by sailors aboard the ship, as well as Democratic lawmakers.Advertisement

James McPherson, the Army undersecretary, is expected to replace Modly, The Wall Street Journal reported. McPherson previously served as an enlisted soldier in the Army, later joining the Navy's Judge Advocate General's Corps and rising to the rank of rear admiral.
{{}}