Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modley told the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt on Monday that fired Captain Brett Crozier was “too naive or too stupid” to not realize his plea for help would be leaked to the press.
Modly also suggested that Crozier may have deliberately leaked the letter, calling the act “a betrayal of trust, with me, with his chain of command.”
“If he didn’t think, in my opinion, that this information wasn’t going to get out to the public, in this day and information age that we live in, then he was either … too naïve or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this. The alternative is that he did this on purpose,” Modly said in the speech, which was aired over the ship’s public address system.
“It was a betrayal. And I can tell you one other thing: because he did that he put it in the public’s forum and it is now a big controversy in Washington, D.C.”
Modly doubled down on Monday on his comments, saying the spoken words were from the heart and meant for the crew.
On several Sunday shows, Defense Secretary Mark Esper defended Modly, saying that he had the support of the Navy leadership.
Rep Elaine Luria, a Democrat from Virginia, who served as a Navy commander for two decades, said in a statement that Modly should be fired.
A portion of Modly’s speech is below.
This story is at Axios.