Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer said that it was an honor to serve but added that his understanding of certain matters had at some point become different from President Donald Trump as he acknowledged his termination.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper asked for Spencer’s resignation on Nov. 24, accusing Spencer of lacking candor over meetings with the White House regarding the case of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher.
“I am deeply troubled by this conduct shown by a senior DOD official,” Esper said in a statement. “Unfortunately, as a result I have determined that Secretary Spencer no longer has my confidence to continue in his position. I wish Richard well.”
Trump said later Sunday that Spencer’s “services have been terminated” by Esper and thanked Spencer “for his service and commitment.”
In a Nov. 24 letter to the president, Spencer said that it was “the extreme honor of a lifetime” to serve as secretary and that one of his most important responsibilities was “to maintain good order and discipline throughout the ranks.”
“I regard this as deadly serious business. The lives of our sailors, marines, and civilian teammates quite literally depend on the professional execution of our many missions, and they also depend on the ongoing faith and support of the people we serve and the allies we service alongside,” he wrote.
“The rule of law is what sets us apart from our adversaries. Good order and discipline is what has enabled our victory against foreign tyranny time and again, from Captain Lawrence’s famous order ‘Don’t Give up the Ship’, to the discipline and determination that propelled our flag to the highest point on Iwo Jima. The Constitution, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, are the shields that set us apart, and the beacons that protect us all. Through my Title Ten Authority, I have strived to ensure our proceedings are fair, transparent, and consistent, from the newest recruit to the Flag and General officer level,” he continued.
“Unfortunately it has become apparent that in this respect, I no longer share the same understanding with the Commander in Chief who appointed me, in regards to the key principle of good order and discipline. I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath that I took in the presence of my family, my flag, and my faith to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” he said.
“The president deserves and should expect a secretary of the navy who is aligned with his vision for the future of our force generation and sustainment. Therefore, with pride in the achievements we’ve shared, and everlasting faith in the continued service and fidelity of the finest sailors, marines, and civilian teammates on earth, I hereby acknowledge my termination as a United States Secretary of the Navy, to be effective immediately.”