FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) — A power struggle is brewing between naval commanders and President Donald Trump over the case involving Navy SEAL — and Fort Wayne native — Eddie Gallagher.
A military jury acquitted Gallagher of the most serious charges against him, but convicted him of posing for a photo with the body of an ISIS fighter in Afghanistan.
But President Trump pardoned Gallagher and reinstated his rank.
Wednesday, the Navy told Gallagher it would review his status as a SEAL.
Thursday morning, the president tweeted,” The Navy will NOT be taking away… his trident pin.”
Presidents have unlimited power to issue pardons or commute sentences, but can President Trump overrule the Navy’s efforts to remove Gallagher’s SEAL status?
“He can probably control that as Commander-in-Chief by giving a direct order. That’s not the power of the pardon, but as Commander-in-Chief he’s still qualifies as a retired SEAL, he cannot lose that status,” says PFW political science professor James Lutz
He says the move also plays to the president’s voter base of veterans and patriots, but says it sets a dangerous precedent in international relations.
“I think it sends a very negative message. It suggests the United States will play fast and loose with the rules when it wants to, and particularly under the current administration. And it means even if the next administration would be unlikely to do those kinds of things, they are stuck with the consequences of this kind of action in the past,” Lutz says.
Professor Michael Wolf says Trump’s tweet about Gallagher comes as Washington is in turmoil.
“We’ve seen a lot of push back and against the backdrop of these impeachment hearings, it is noteworthy that you have another struggle between the president and another department of the U.S. government,” he says.
A Korean War Marine says Gallagher worked hard to earn his SEAL status and should keep it.
“The man has given his life to this country, he served us faithfully, he was doing the job he was paid to do. Unfortunately there was a photograph taken that was offensive to some people, but those who have never been in combat don’t understand the significance,” James Grames says.
Now that President Trump has tweeted, it’s not clear when or if the Navy might convene a board to determine whether to strip Gallagher of his seal status.
Gallagher enlisted in the Navy in 1999 after graduating from Bishop Dwenger high school.
His wife is a Northrop high school graduate.