Trump will review case of fired Crozier: 'I don't want to destroy somebody for having a bad day'

'His career prior to that was very good. So I'm going to get involved and see exactly what's going on there,' Trump said.

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Aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt
Aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) arrives in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 2018.
Image courtesy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jessica Blackwell/Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Hawaii (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty)
Last Updated:
April 6, 2020 - 7:04pm

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President Trump said Monday that he would intervene in a heated Navy dispute over a firing of the commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt who wrote an unclassified memo about a coronavirus outbreak on his aircraft carrier.

"The letters should not have been sent to many people, unclassified," Trump said during a daily White House coronavirus task force briefing. "That was a mistake. It's a mistake that shouldn't have been made, because it's unfair to the families of the people on the ship, because they get nervous. And it shows weakness, and there's nothing weak about us now, not anymore. We have the strongest military we've ever had. And we're not going to be showing weakness to anybody."

The fired commander, Capt. Brett Crozier, was removed from his post after reportedly writing a lengthy memo to top Navy officials about a coronavirus outbreak on his aircraft carrier and intentionally leaking it to the media. The memo also purportedly urged officials to take action to save the vessel's sailors.

"We don't want to have letter-writing campaigns where the fake news finds a letter or gets a leak," Trump said. "With all of that said, his career prior to that was very good. So I'm going to get involved and see exactly what's going on there. Because I don't want to destroy somebody for having a bad day."

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly on Monday reportedly skewered Crozier, telling the crew that the ex-commander was “too stupid” to be in command.

"I haven't heard it exactly, I haven't heard. I heard they had a statement that was made," Trump said about Modly's statement. "And if that were the statement that was made, that was a strong statement. Look, the letters shouldn't have been sent, and certainly they shouldn't have been leaked. This is a military operation. I must tell you, I've heard very good things about the gentlemen, both gentlemen, by the way. And I may look into it maybe from the standpoint that something should be resolved."

Trump said his peacemaking skills could help solve the dispute between Modly and Crozier.

"I may just get involved," he said. "Because you know what, you have two good people, and they're arguing. And I'm good, believe it or not, at settling arguments. I'm good at settling these arguments. So I may look at it in detail, and I'll be able to figure it out very fast."