search
Sections List
American Journal News

Defense secretary defends firing Navy captain who asked for help with outbreak

Capt. Brett Crozier was fired after he sounded the alarm that COVID-19 was spreading on the ship he commanded.

By Associated Press - April 06, 2020
Share
Brett Crozier

With the military under broad pressure to step up its coronavirus response, Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday defended the firing of an aircraft carrier commander who sought help for sailors during an outbreak as a matter of holding leaders “accountable.” He also said the matter was under review.

In two television interviews, Esper said acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly made a “very tough decision” last Thursday to oust Capt. Brett Crozier from command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which was docked in Guam, and that he supported the decision.

“It was based on his view that he had lost faith and confidence in the captain, based on his actions. It was supported by Navy leadership,” Esper said.

Still, the Pentagon chief declined to explicitly say he agreed with Modly’s assessment, noting that there is “an investigation ongoing.”

“This could ultimately come to my desk,” he said. “I think Secretary Modly laid out very reasonably, very deliberately the reasons why. And I think, when all those facts come to bear, we will have a chance to understand why Secretary Modly did what he did.”

Crozier circulated a memo to Navy leaders last week that was obtained by news media in which he urged speedy action to evacuate the ship of nearly 5,000 sailors as the coronavirus began to escalate. Modly said Crozier “demonstrated extremely poor judgment” in the middle of a crisis, although Navy officials later announced they would offload 2,700 sailors in the coming days.

Videos went viral on social media over the weekend showing hundreds of sailors gathered on the ship chanting and applauding Crozier on Thursday as he walked off the vessel, turned, saluted, waved, and got into a waiting car.

His firing comes amid pressure on the military as it seeks to step up its response to the coronavirus outbreak, including sending two Navy hospital ships to assist New York and Los Angeles. On Sunday, Esper said the Pentagon was sending over 1,100 additional doctors, nurses, and other medical staff to New York as part of a COVID-19 operation that would have the military in charge of “the largest hospital in the United States,” with 2,500 beds at the city’s Jacob Javits Convention Center.

Esper issued new requirements for those visiting or working on Department of Defense installations regarding the use of cloth face coverings. He said that “to the extent practical,” all individuals on department property “will wear” the coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance from others. The guidance, outlined in a memo to senior military leaders Sunday, is effective immediately.

As the coronavirus pandemic worsens and the country turns increasingly to the military for help, America’s armed services have been struggling to get new recruits as families and communities hunker down. The services, as a result, could fall thousands short of their enlistment goals if the widespread lockdowns drag on, forcing them to pressure current troops to stay on in order to maintain broader military readiness.

Asked over the weekend about whether Crozier’s firing could hurt morale in the military, Donald Trump said he was not involved with the decision but agreed with it “100 percent.”

“I thought it was terrible what he did to write a letter,” he told reporters Saturday. “I mean, this isn’t a class on literature. This is a captain of a massive ship that’s nuclear-powered. And he shouldn’t be talking that way in a letter. He could call and ask and suggest.”

Esper insisted it was not unusual for the Navy to relieve commanders so quickly without first completing a review of their actions. But he also declined to say what will happen to Crozier, citing the current ongoing investigation. Esper said he backed Modly’s decision after also receiving advice from the chief of naval operations and Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“It’s just another example of how we hold leaders accountable for their actions,” Esper said.

He said over half of the ship had now been tested. About 155 sailors had tested positive for COVID-19, exhibiting “mild and moderate” symptoms with “no hospitalizations whatsoever.”

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

Esper said not all the sailors will be evacuated because the ship has sensitive equipment and weapons on board, and a new commander will be arriving soon to assess the crew’s safety.

The ouster has drawn fire from different quarters, including former military commanders.

On Sunday, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called the Trump administration’s handling of the case as “close to criminal.”

“The idea that this man stood up and said what had to be said, got it out that his troops, his Navy personnel were in danger,” he said. “I think he should have a commendation rather than be fired.”

Tweed Roosevelt, the great grandson of former President Theodore Roosevelt, called Crozier a “hero.”

“In this era when so many seem to place expediency over honor, it is heartening that so many others are showing great courage, some even risking their lives. Theodore Roosevelt, in his time, chose the honorable course,” Tweed Roosevelt wrote in an op-ed Friday in the New York Times. “Captain Crozier has done the same.”

Esper appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” and ABC’s “This Week,” and Biden also was on ABC.


Read More
Biden campaign launches new ad focused on Affordable Care Act

Biden campaign launches new ad focused on Affordable Care Act

By Kim Lyons, Pennsylvania Capital-Star - May 08, 2024
Ohio doctors fear effects of emergency abortion care case set to go before U.S. Supreme Court

Ohio doctors fear effects of emergency abortion care case set to go before U.S. Supreme Court

By Susan Tebben, Ohio Capital Journal - April 23, 2024
House GOP votes to end flu, whooping cough vaccine rules for foster and adoptive families

House GOP votes to end flu, whooping cough vaccine rules for foster and adoptive families

By Anita Wadhwani, Tennessee Lookout - March 26, 2024
U.S. House Speaker Johnson says IVF should be protected — just not by Congress

U.S. House Speaker Johnson says IVF should be protected — just not by Congress

By Jennifer Shutt, States Newsroom - March 14, 2024
Idaho bill banning public funds for gender-affirming care goes to Senate

Idaho bill banning public funds for gender-affirming care goes to Senate

By Mia Maldonado, Idaho Capital Sun - March 14, 2024
Alabama passed a new IVF law. But questions remain.

Alabama passed a new IVF law. But questions remain.

By Alander Rocha, Alabama Reflector - March 11, 2024
AJ News
Latest
Republican Bernie Moreno’s rags-to-riches story exposed as a lie

Republican Bernie Moreno’s rags-to-riches story exposed as a lie

By Jesse Valentine - May 24, 2024
What happens to clinics after a state bans abortion? They fight to survive.

What happens to clinics after a state bans abortion? They fight to survive.

By Chabeli Carrazana and Shefali Luthra - May 22, 2024
Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte took job at Caterpillar after tax fraud probe

Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte took job at Caterpillar after tax fraud probe

By Jesse Valentine - May 21, 2024
Alabama OB-GYN residencies dropped over 20% after Dobbs, state abortion ban, says analysis

Alabama OB-GYN residencies dropped over 20% after Dobbs, state abortion ban, says analysis

By Alander Rocha, Alabama Reflector - May 21, 2024
House GOP celebrates National Police Week while pushing to defund local law enforcement

House GOP celebrates National Police Week while pushing to defund local law enforcement

By Jesse Valentine - May 16, 2024
Evolution denier Mark Robinson could reshape North Carolina’s education system

Evolution denier Mark Robinson could reshape North Carolina’s education system

By Jesse Valentine - May 16, 2024
Republican Jay Ashcroft backs anti-abortion clinics that push lies and disinformation

Republican Jay Ashcroft backs anti-abortion clinics that push lies and disinformation

By Jesse Valentine - May 14, 2024
Republican Sam Brown’s assault on teacher unions could backfire

Republican Sam Brown’s assault on teacher unions could backfire

By Jesse Valentine - May 09, 2024
Florida abortion ban puts GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna’s anti-choice views in spotlight

Florida abortion ban puts GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna’s anti-choice views in spotlight

By Jesse Valentine - May 07, 2024
Trump leaves door open to banning medication abortion nationwide

Trump leaves door open to banning medication abortion nationwide

By Jennifer Shutt, States Newsroom - April 30, 2024
Republican Caroleene Dobson wants Alabama abortion ban to go nationwide

Republican Caroleene Dobson wants Alabama abortion ban to go nationwide

By Jesse Valentine - April 30, 2024
Ohio Gov. DeWine said he didn’t know of millions in FirstEnergy support. Is it plausible?

Ohio Gov. DeWine said he didn’t know of millions in FirstEnergy support. Is it plausible?

By Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal - April 29, 2024
GOP Rep. Zach Nunn suggests laws against hate crime aren’t needed

GOP Rep. Zach Nunn suggests laws against hate crime aren’t needed

By Jesse Valentine - April 15, 2024
GOP Senate candidate Hung Cao blames racial equity for Baltimore bridge tragedy

GOP Senate candidate Hung Cao blames racial equity for Baltimore bridge tragedy

By Jesse Valentine - March 29, 2024
GOP Rep. Jennifer Kiggans donates thousands to far-right extremists

GOP Rep. Jennifer Kiggans donates thousands to far-right extremists

By Jesse Valentine - March 08, 2024
Ohio senate candidate Bernie Moreno: “Absolute pro-life no exceptions.”

Ohio senate candidate Bernie Moreno: “Absolute pro-life no exceptions.”

By Jesse Valentine - March 07, 2024
Anti-China Republicans pocket thousands from Chinese owned conglomerate

Anti-China Republicans pocket thousands from Chinese owned conglomerate

By Jesse Valentine - March 04, 2024
Republican Eric Hovde makes inconsistent statements about family history

Republican Eric Hovde makes inconsistent statements about family history

By Jesse Valentine - February 26, 2024
Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

By Jesse Valentine - February 09, 2024
Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

By Annmarie Timmins, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 31, 2024
UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

By Ashley Murray, States Newsroom - January 24, 2024
Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

By Jesse Valentine - January 17, 2024
A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

By Bonnie Fuller - January 10, 2024
Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

By Danielle J. Brown, Maryland Matters - January 08, 2024
How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

By Jesse Valentine - January 05, 2024
NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

By Ethan DeWitt, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 04, 2024
Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

By Jesse Valentine - December 22, 2023
Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

By - December 15, 2023
Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

By Jesse Valentine - December 08, 2023
Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

By Jesse Valentine - December 07, 2023
Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

By Anna Liz Nichols, Michigan Advance - December 06, 2023
105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

By Jesse Valentine - December 05, 2023
For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - December 04, 2023
Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - November 30, 2023
Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

By Jesse Valentine - November 06, 2023
Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

By Jesse Valentine - November 03, 2023
Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

By Adam Ganucheau, Mississippi Today - October 24, 2023
Louisiana declares abortion drugs ‘dangerous substances’ to add harsher penalties

Louisiana declares abortion drugs ‘dangerous substances’ to add harsher penalties

By Greg LaRose, Louisiana Illuminator - May 24, 2024
These U.S. Supreme Court cases could affect abortion access nationwide

These U.S. Supreme Court cases could affect abortion access nationwide

By Charlotte Rene Woods, Virginia Mercury - May 24, 2024
Mike Rogers’ ties to Chinese telecom giants fuel hypocrisy scandal

Mike Rogers’ ties to Chinese telecom giants fuel hypocrisy scandal

By Jesse Valentine - May 23, 2024
New rules protect pregnant workers, but red states sue over abortion provisions

New rules protect pregnant workers, but red states sue over abortion provisions

By Anna Claire Vollers - May 22, 2024