Adding a new twist to an ongoing military scandal, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said on Monday that President Donald Trump ordered him to permit embattled Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher to retire with his elite rank.
The controversy surrounding Gallagher has been ongoing. The Navy officer was accused of war crimes, including murdering a wounded combatant. He was eventually convicted of posing with the corpse of a murdered ISIS fighter.
Last week Trump said on Twitter that the Navy would not be revoking Gallagher's SEAL Trident pin. The Secretary of the Navy was fired on Sunday after going outside of the chain of command regarding the Gallagher controversy.
News outlets reported on Monday that Esper said that he had received a "direct order" from Trump to allow Gallagher to maintain his status in the SEALs. Trump tweeted last week that the Navy has handled the case "very badly from the beginning."