Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly submitted his resignation a day after audio of him calling the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Captain Brett Crozier, “stupid” surfaced, according to several reports.
In a speech to the crew of the Roosevelt, Modly blasted Crozier for raising the alarm after more than 100 crew members tested positive for the coronavirus.
Crozier had requested in a letter to Navy leadership that the crew of the ship be allowed to disembark and quarantine to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset: our Sailors.”
It did not take long for the news of the letter to reach the press. Modly removed Crozier after that letter was written. He also blasted Crozier for writing the letter during a speech to the Roosevelt’s crew on Sunday.
“If he didn’t think that this information wasn’t going to get out into the public, in this day and information age that we live in, then he was either A, too naive or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this. The alternative is that he did this on purpose.”
The audio surfaced on Monday and later that day, Modley apologized for his comments, “I do not think Captain Brett Crozier is naïve nor stupid.”
He continued, “I believe, precisely because he is not naive and stupid, that he sent his alarming email with the intention of getting it into the public domain in an effort to draw public attention to the situation on his ship.”
Modley’s apology did little to smooth things over on Capitol Hill, where on Tuesday afternoon House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a statement calling for his removal.
“Our oath of office is to protect and defend the Constitution, and therefore our first responsibility is to protect and defend the American people,” Pelosi said, adding, “That is exactly what Captain Crozier was doing when he called for help for the men and women in his charge.”
She continued, “[Modly] showed a serious lack of the sound judgment and strong leadership needed during this time. Acting Secretary Modly must be removed from his position or resign.”
Check out Pelosi’s statement below:
Modly was appointed to be the acting Navy secretary after former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was forced out of the job late last year over the case of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, as IJR has previously reported.