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Tag: thomas modly

Even Navy Secretary’s Subservience Couldn’t Save Him

The trick to surviving in Donald Trump's administration is being a shameless toady, willing at any moment to lavish praise on the president. But acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly found that staying on Trump's good side can be impossibly tricky. He resigned Tuesday in the apparent realization that his strenuous self-abasement was not enough to appease the president.

Last week, Modly relieved the commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, who had emailed higher-ups pleading for the evacuation of sailors aboard the aircraft carrier because of an outbreak of COVID-19. After the letter was leaked to the press, Modly sacked Capt. Brett Crozier for showing "extremely poor judgment" and letting the situation "overwhelm his ability to act professionally."

Then the secretary flew to Guam to deliver a denunciation of Crozier, whose own sailors had cheered him as he left the ship. Modly boarded the carrier and used its public address system to inform the crew that the captain was "was either too naive or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this."

Why would Modly go to such trouble and use such inflammatory language to excoriate an officer who was trying to protect his personnel — and to rebuke the sailors who thought highly of him? Probably because Trump had expressed dissatisfaction with Crozier, and Modly wanted to demonstrate his utter devotion to the president.


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Acting Navy Secretary Modly Quits Trump’s Chaotic Pentagon

Donald Trump's acting Navy secretary resigned on Tuesday after calling a recently ousted captain "stupid" for seeking help for his crew.

It marks the latest departure in Trump's revolving door Pentagon.

Outgoing Navy Secretary Thomas Modly apologized Monday after delivering a profanity-filled speech on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. In his comments a day earlier, he had defended firing the aircraft carrier's commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, over Crozier's decision to send a memo asking for evacuation for his COVID-19-stricken crew.

The memo was later published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Modly subsequently called the captain "too naive or too stupid" for the job in a poorly received speech to the sailors on the carrier, who had cheered Crozier as he departed the ship.

Even Trump called Modly's attack "rough."

Modly had taken the secretary position on an "acting" basis after Trump's previous naval secretary was forced out in a different controversy. Last November, Secretary Richard Spencer was forced to resign after Trump pardoned three service members against the wishes of military leadership.

"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," Spencer wrote in his resignation letter. "I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took in the presence of my family, my flag and my faith to support and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Trump's first choice for the job was Philip Bilden, a private equity official. After Trump initially nominated him, Bilden withdrew from consideration in February 2017, citing conflict of interest rules.

"After an extensive review process, I have determined that I will not be able to satisfy the Office of Government Ethics requirements without undue disruption and materially adverse divestment of my family's private financial interests," he explained at the time.

Trump has also seen significant turnover in other Defense Department positions.

His original Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, served two years before falling out with Trump over the Syrian troop withdrawal. Patrick Shanahan, Mark Esper, and Spencer then took turns as acting secretary until Esper was confirmed in the position last July.

Trump also had two Army secretary nominees withdraw before confirmation and has used acting Secretary Robert Speer, Ryan McCarthy, and Esper in that position at various points.

Army Undersecretary Jim McPherson will take over for Modly in acting capacity for the time being, Foreign Policy reported on Tuesday afternoon.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.