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President Trump overrides Navy decision to remove SEAL who recently received war crime pardon


'This case was handled very badly from the beginning'

Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Thursday reversed a decision by the Navy to remove Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher from the Navy SEALs, less than a week after the president pardoned Gallagher and two other other military officers of war crime charges or convictions, according to the New York Times.

Gallagher was acquitted in July of first-degree murder of an ISIS captive and attempted murder of civilians in Iraq, and convicted of posing in a photo with the dead body of a captive.

The Navy notified Gallagher on Wednesday that it intended to remove him from the SEALs, a move that had been cleared by some White House officials, before President Trump intervened. Navy officials told the Times that while they obviously disagreed with the president's decision, they were not totally surprised by it and intended to comply. From the Times:

The commander of Naval Special Warfare, Rear Adm. Collin Green, discussed the matter with Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer and the chief of naval operations, Adm. Michael Gilday, and the Navy briefed Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

In the hours before the letters were issued, two Navy officials said, the Navy reached out to the White House for clearance multiple times.

"The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher's Trident Pin," the president wrote on Twitter. "This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!"

Last week, President Trump pardoned Gallagher, Maj. Matthew Gostelyn of the Army Special Forces, and Army First Lt. Clint Lorance.

Lorance was convicted in 2013 of second-degree murder for ordering his men to fire on two unarmed Afghans who were speeding toward his platoon on a motorcycle. Before his pardon, he was serving a 19-year sentence in Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

Gostelyn was facing a premeditated murder charge for the 2010 killing of a suspected bomb maker in Afghanistan and was awaiting trial at the time of his pardon.

Gallagher had already served more than the four-month sentence he received for his conviction, and therefore did not serve any prison time after his trial. President Trump also reversed a military jury demotion and restored Gallagher to the rank of chief.

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