Defense secretary confirms he shut down the probe into pardoned war criminal Gallagher on Trump's direct orders
Mark Esper AMERICA/AFP/File / Chip SOMODEVILLA

On Monday, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirmed to reporters that President Donald Trump personally ordered him to allow pardoned Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher to retire while keeping his trident pin:


This follows the forced resignation of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer after pushing back on the president's opposition to the Navy's administrative investigation into Gallagher, who along with multiple other SEALs was facing revocation of his pin for taking a photograph with the corpse of a teenage military prisoner.

Gallagher, whose case became a flash point for right-wing pundits, faced a court-martial for murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault on non-combatants, and obstruction of justice after his fellow SEALs turned him in for allegedly stabbing the prisoner with his hunting knife, firing weapons indiscriminately into civilian populations, and threatening to kill fellow troops who reported him.

Ultimately, he was cleared of most of these charges after a series of prosecutorial missteps, but was still found guilty of desecrating the enemy corpse, for which Trump issued a pardon.