n ugly 10-day dispute between Donald Trump and the U.S. Navy escalated sharply on Sunday, when Secretary of Defense Mark Esper fired Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, who had publicly defied the president in the case of demoted Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher.
Gallagher had been acquitted by a military court of fatally stabbing a wounded ISIS fighter, but convicted of posing for a picture with the murdered fighter's body. Gallagher's demotion and the Navy's subsequent decision to begin stripping him of his highly prized Trident pin, the emblem of the Navy Seals, enraged Trump—who directed in a tweet that Gallagher be returned to his original rank and that he retain his pin. When Spencer demanded that the president put his directive in writing, Esper fired him.
Spencer's feud with Trump and Esper's decision dismissing him have roiled the Pentagon. Esper defended his decision by saying the Navy secretary was fired for hiding private conversations he's had with the White House on the Gallagher issue, while Spencer claimed he resigned because Trump's directive undermined the Navy's need for "good order and discipline."