- Democratic lawmakers are demanding acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly resign or be fired over a speech he delivered on Monday to the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.
- In leaked audio of the speech, the acting secretary is heard trashing Capt. Brett Crozier, the carrier’s former commanding officer.
- Modly fired Crozier on Thursday after a letter he wrote about the coronavirus outbreak aboard the carrier leaked to the media.
- Virginia Rep. Elaine Luria, a Navy veteran, wrote in a statement on Monday that “acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly’s remarks to the crew show that he is in no way fit to lead our Navy through this trying time. Secretary Esper should immediately fire him.”
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Lawmakers are demanding that acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly either resign or be fired for his remarks to the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, a ship with a serious coronavirus outbreak that just lost its captain.
Modly removed Capt. Brett Crozier, the ship’s former commanding officer, Thursday after a letter Crozier wrote leaked to the media. In the note, the captain raised alarms about a coronavirus outbreak on the carrier and requested additional Navy support. Crozier strongly pushed for getting the crew off the ship as fast as possible to stem the outbreak.
After his controversial decision, the acting secretary travelled out to the USS Theodore Roosevelt to speak to the crew.
Modly, who spoke with the sailors over the ship’s announcing system, said the captain was “either too naive or too stupid” to be the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt “if he didn’t think that information wasn’t going to get out in the public, in this information age that we live in.”
“The alternative is that he did this on purpose,” he added, according to leaked audio of the speech.
The 15-minute speech, which included profanity, was deeply critical of Crozier, who he accused of “betrayal.”
Modly also blamed China for the outbreak, saying that country’s government “put the world at risk to protect themselves,” and lashed out at the US media, asking the crew to imagine a scenario where every ship’s commanding officer aired their concerns through the media instead of the chain of command. “We would no longer have a Navy,” Modly said. “Not long after that, we would no longer have a country.”
A handful of Democratic lawmakers have called for Modly, who was appointed by President Donald Trump after the former Navy secretary was forced to resign, to step down or be fired.
In a statement on Monday, Virginia Rep. Elaine Luria, a Navy veteran, wrote, “Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly’s remarks to the crew show that he is in no way fit to lead our Navy through this trying time. Secretary Esper should immediately fire him.”
Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who is a Marine veteran, said, “Modly should be removed unceremoniously for these shocking remarks – especially after failing to protect sailors’ safety & health. He has betrayed their trust.” He also called for a Department of Defence Inspector General investigation.
California Rep. Ted Lieu, who is a colonel in the Air Force Reserve, wrote, “Our civilian-controlled military requires our troops to have confidence our civilian leaders always have their best interests in mind. @SECNAV Modly has now lost that confidence. He should resign.”
Texas Rep. Filemon Vela wrote on Twitter: “Modly needs to RESIGN!”
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine said in a statement, “Secretary Modly’s comments were completely inappropriate and beneath the office of the Secretary of the Navy.” He added that “these dedicated sailors deserve better from their leadership.”
Modly has said that he stands by his comments.
“The spoken words were from the heart, and meant for them. I stand by every word I said, even, regrettably any profanity that may have been used for emphasis. Anyone who has served on a Navy ship would understand,” the acting secretary said in response to the leaked speech.