GUEST EDITORIAL: Spencer fell on his trident

New York Daily News editorial board
In this July 16, 2019, photo, acting Defense Secretary Richard Spencer listens during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. Secretary of the U.S. Navy Spencer said Saturday, Nov. 23, he doesn't consider a tweet by President Donald Trump an order and would need a formal order to stop a review of Edward Gallagher, a sailor who could lose his status as a Navy Seal. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Richard Spencer isn’t the first to learn that it’s impossible to perform an important government duty — namely, run the U.S. Navy as secretary — when Donald Trump is head of the executive branch. Spencer was fired Sunday by Defense Secretary Mark Esper for trying to find a way to contain Trump’s damage.

Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher, a SEAL, was acquitted in a court martial in July of an Iraq murder but found guilty of taking a picture with an enemy corpse, for which he was demoted one rank. Military justice worked as intended.

Enter Trump. First he ordered Spencer to revoke the Navy Achievement Medals given to the Gallagher prosecutors. His right as commander-in-chief, but morally the wrong choice.

More:Esper says Trump ordered him to stop SEAL review board

More:Pentagon chief fires Navy secretary over SEAL controversy

This month, Trump reversed Gallagher’s demotion, upsetting the SEAL commander and Navy brass, who correctly wanted consequences imposed on a fighter who’d broken the law. Spencer, hoping to find a way to save face, told White House officials that if Trump would cease meddling with the disciplinary process on Gallagher’s behalf, then Spencer would make sure that Gallagher could retire with his treasured Trident pin and SEAL title intact.

Dealmaker Trump would have none of it, going on Twitter on Thursday: “The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin. This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!”

Sunday, Spencer was sacked by Esper for going behind his back and offering a private deal that was at odds with his public stance of no interference.

He’s out, Gallagher stays a SEAL and Trump keeps on raging.