Acting Navy secretary ‘had no discussions’ with White House prior to firing Crozier: Report

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said he did not consult with anyone at the White House before he decided to fire the captain of an aircraft carrier for his lack of leadership in the face of a coronavirus outbreak, according to a report.

Modly said he “had no discussions with anyone at the White House prior to making the decision” to dismiss Capt. Brett Crozier, the commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, disputing claims by Navy sources that Modly told a colleague President Trump wanted the officer fired.

Modly did say he understood the president was angry about the incident.

“I didn’t want to get into a decision where the president would feel that he had to intervene because the Navy couldn’t be decisive,” Modly told the Washington Post. “If I were president, and I saw a commanding officer of a ship exercising such poor judgment, I would be asking why the leadership of the Navy wasn’t taking action itself.”

He said communicating with the White House was the responsibility of Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

Crozier wrote a letter to top Navy officials last week urging them to take “decisive” action to quarantine the crew of the Theodore Roosevelt because of a coronavirus outbreak and thoroughly clean the ship.

The letter went public after the San Francisco Chronicle obtained a copy.

As the week went on, Modly said it became apparent to him that he “couldn’t trust” Crozier’s judgment and felt the captain was creating a panic by sending the letter to so many people.

“Either you’re losing it, or you’re extremely naive, or you’re dishonorable. … If he did this intentionally, he’s not honorable,” Modly said.

He also said he was aware of how his predecessor, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, “lost his job because the Navy Department got crossways with the president” over the case involving Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher.

“I put myself in the president’s shoes. I considered how the president felt like he needed to get involved in Navy decisions. I didn’t want that to happen again,” he told the newspaper.

Crozier has since tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a report.