Navy secretary set to rescind awards for prosecutors in Gallagher court-martial after Trump tweet

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer testifies at a Senate hearing in March, 2019.


By CAITLIN M. KENNEY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 31, 2019

WASHINGTON — Navy Secretary Richard Spencer will rescind the military awards given to the prosecutors in the court-martial of Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher after President Donald Trump directed him to do so, a Navy official said Wednesday.

“The [Navy] secretary is going to pull the awards and he does have the authority to do that,” said a Navy official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter.

The official said he did not know when Spencer would rescind the awards, which were given to all the prosecutors who worked on the Gallagher court-martial.

The announcement of the decision follows a tweet by Trump on Wednesday afternoon directing Navy leadership to take away the awards. The president tweeted the prosecutors were “ridiculously” given the Navy Achievement Medal.

“Not only did they lose the case, they had difficulty with respect to information that may have been obtained from opposing lawyers and for giving immunity in a totally incompetent fashion,” Trump wrote. “I have directed the Secretary of the Navy Ricard Spencer & Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson to immediately withdraw and rescind the awards.”

The Navy Achievement Medal is given for performance.

The four attorneys serving as the prosecution in the Gallagher court-martial were given the medal for “superb results” and “expert litigation,” according to a report by Task and Purpose based on legal documents that the website obtained.

Gallagher was accused of committing several war crimes in 2017, including the killing of a wounded Islamic State combatant, during a deployment to Iraq. He was acquitted earlier this month of all but one charge, with the jury finding him guilty of posing with the body of the dead combatant in photos. Gallagher was sentenced to a reduction in rank to E-6, docked pay for two months and four months in jail, which he had already served while waiting for the trial, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Twitter: @caitlinmkenney