Lawmakers demand Trump's acting Navy secretary resign or be fired after he trashed an aircraft carrier captain to its crew

Thomas Modly

  • Democratic lawmakers are demanding Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly resign or be fired for a speech he delivered to the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt on Monday.
  • In leaked audio of the speech, the acting secretary can heard trashing Capt. Brett Crozier, the carrier's former commanding officer. Modly fired Crozier on Thursday after a letter he wrote about the coronavirus outbreak aboard the carrier leaked to the media.
  • Virginia congresswoman and Navy veteran Rep. Elaine Luria wrote in a statement on Monday that "acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly's remarks to the crew show that he is in no way fit to lead our Navy through this trying time. Secretary Esper should immediately fire him."
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Lawmakers are demanding that Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly either resign or be fired for his remarks to the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, a ship dealing with a serious coronavirus outbreak that just lost its captain.

Modly removed Capt. Brett Crozier, the ship's former commanding officer, Thursday after his letter raising alarms about a coronavirus outbreak on the carrier and requesting additional Navy support leaked to the media. Crozier strongly pushed for getting the crew off the ship as fast as possible to stem the outbreak.Advertisement

Following the controversial decision, the acting secretary traveled out to the USS Theodore Roosevelt to speak to the crew.

Speaking to the sailors over the ship's annoucing system, Modly said that the captain was "either too naive or too stupid" to be the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt "if he didn't think that information wasn't going to get out in the public, in this information age that we live in."

"The alternative is that he did this on purpose," he added, leaked audio of the speech revealed.
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The 15-minute speech, which included profanity, was deeply critical of Crozier, who he accused of committing a "betrayal." Modly also blamed China for the outbreak, saying that country's regime "put the world at risk to protect themselves," and lashed out at the US media, asking the crew to imagine a scenario where every ship commanding officer aired their concerns through the media instead of the chain of command.

"We would no longer have a Navy," Modly said. "Not long after that, we would no longer have a country." A handful of Democratic lawmakers have called for Modly, who was appointed by President Donald Trump after the former Navy secretary was forced to resign, to step down or be fired.Advertisement

Virginia congresswoman and Navy veteran Rep. Elaine Luria wrote in a statement on Monday that "acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly's remarks to the crew show that he is in no way fit to lead our Navy through this trying time. Secretary Esper should immediately fire him."

Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who is a Marine veteran, said that "Modly should be removed unceremoniously for these shocking remarks - especially after failing to protect sailors safety and health. He has betrayed their trust." He called for a Department of Defense Inspector General investigation.

California congressman Rep. Ted Lieu, who is a colonel in the Air Force Reserve, wrote that "our civilian-controlled military requires our troops to have confidence our civilian leaders always have their best interests in mind. @SECNAV Modly has now lost that confidence. He should resign."Advertisement

Texas congressman Rep. Filemon Vela wrote that on Twitter that "Modly needs to RESIGN!"

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine said in a statement that "Secretary Modly's comments were completely inappropriate and beneath the office of the Secretary of the Navy." He added that "these dedicated sailors deserve better from their leadership."

Modly has insisted that he stands by his comments.Advertisement

"The spoken words were from the heart, and meant for them. I stand by every word I said, even, regrettably any profanity that may have been used for emphasis. Anyone who has served on a Navy ship would understand," the acting secretary said in response to the leaked speech.

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