Navy Launches Review Into Ousting Gallagher from SEALs, Despite Trump Intervention

November 20, 2019 Updated: November 20, 2019

The U.S. Navy is planning to announce a review into whether to remove a Navy SEAL whose rank was recently restored by President Donald Trump following a court martial, according to reports.

Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, 40, was acquitted by a military jury in July of committing war crimes—including killing a wounded Islamic State fighter—while deployed to Mosul in Iraq in 2017.

Gallagher was, however, convicted of illegally posing with the detainee’s corpse, an offense which carries a maximum sentence of four months imprisonment. However, Gallagher was instead demoted in rank and pay grade.

Trump granted Gallagher a full pardon, and also signed an order last week restoring his rank and pay grade of Chief Petty Officer before he was tried and found not guilty of the seven charges against him.

A U.S. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Gallagher—along with three other SEALs—is expected to be notified on Wednesday, Nov. 20 that he must appear before a board that will decide whether he should be stripped of his SEAL status.

Edward Gallagher and wife
Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher and his wife Andrea celebrate after being acquitted of all but one charge in San Diego, Calif., on July 2, 2019. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

Officials told Reuters that the process could take weeks, but the decision to review Gallagher’s status had the support of senior Navy leaders.

If Gallagher is removed from the elite SEALs, he would either have to retire or find a different position in the Navy.

Navy spokesman Commander Nate Christensen told Fox News the move was brought about by Naval Special Warfare Command Rear Admiral Collin Green, and was supported by Admiral Mike Gilday.

The Epoch Times contacted the Naval Special Warfare Command for comment, but did not immediately hear back.

U.S. service members Army First Lieutenant Clint Lorance and Army Major Mathew Golsteyn, who were accused of war crimes, were also pardoned by Trump last week.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement on Nov. 15 that Trump had signed an Executive Grant of Clemency for Lorance and Golsteyn.

“The president, as commander-in-chief, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted,” Grisham said in the statement. “For more than 200 years, presidents have used their authority to offer second chances to deserving individuals, including those in uniform who have served our country.”

“These actions are in keeping with this long history. As the president has stated, ‘When our soldiers have to fight for our country, I want to give them the confidence to fight,’” she said. Trump received mixed reactions for his decision to pardon the men, with critics saying that the decision sends a message of disrespect for the law and military justice system.

Lorance was found guilty of second-degree murder in 2013 for ordering his troops to fire at three unarmed men riding motorcycles toward them at unusual speeds. Two of three men were killed in the incident. He has served 6 of the 19 years he was sentenced for the conviction.

Meanwhile, Golsteyn, a former Green Beret, was accused of murdering an alleged terrorist bomb-maker during a deployment in Afghanistan in 2010.

Janita Kan contributed to this report.