The Latest: Trump: I am backing ‘war fighters’ in SEAL case

Politics

In this Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019 photo, U.S. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer fields questions at a media availability at the Halifax International Security Forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia. U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has fired the Navy’s top official over his handling of the case of a SEAL accused of war crimes who President Donald Trump has defended. Esper said on Sunday, Nov. 24 that he had lost confidence in Spencer and alleged that Spencer proposed a deal with the White House behind his back to resolve the SEAL’s case. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and the case of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher (all times local):

2:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump says “I have to protect our war fighters” as he explains his actions in the case of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq.

Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher was acquitted of murder in the stabbing death of an Islamic State militant captive but convicted of posing with the corpse in 2017.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper allowed Gallagher to retire with his Trident pin, retaining his status as a SEAL. He says he did so at the president’s direction.

Trump said Monday that he is sticking up for members of the armed forces.

Esper fired Navy Secretary Richard Spencer on Sunday, accusing him of secretly offering to the White House to rig the Navy disciplinary process to ensure that Gallagher not lose his Trident.

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11:10 a.m.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper says President Donald Trump gave him a direct order that a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq be allowed to retire without losing his SEAL status.

Esper told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday that was the reason he announced Sunday evening that Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher would be allowed to retire with his Trident Pin, retaining his status as a SEAL.

Esper also accused Navy Secretary Richard Spencer of secretly offering to the White House to rig the Navy disciplinary process to ensure the Gallagher not lose his Trident. Esper fired Spencer on Sunday.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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