CNN’s Tapper Grills Def Sec Esper on Trump Attacking Navy Captain Who Raised Alarm on Coronavirus Outbreak
CNN’s Jake Tapper used an interview with Mark Esper in order to press the defense secretary on why the U.S. Navy relieved Brett Crozier of his duties as captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt.
Crozier became a subject of intrigue last week when he sent the Navy an email requesting assistance with a coronavirus outbreak on his ship, and the letter ended up getting picked up by the press. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly removed Crozier from his position on Thursday, saying that the letter was sent though a “non-secure unclassified email,” and that Crozier mishandled the situation while allegedly causing a panic amongst his crew.
When Tapper asked Esper about this, the CNN host aired a video of Crozier being cheered by his fellow sailors when he disembarked the ship in Guam. When asked why Crozier was relieved of command, Esper said he supported Modly’s view “that he had lost faith and confidence in the captain based on his actions.”
Tapper countered by noting that Crozier “was trying to save lives, and he wasn’t even afforded the benefit of an investigation” before he was taken off duty. Esper insisted that there was an ongoing investigation, but the situation “is not unheard of. All the services, at time, relieve commanders without the benefit of an investigation upfront because they’ve lost confidence in them.”
From there, Tapper noted that Trump called Crozier’s letter “terrible” and inappropriate, so he asked Esper “do you think that’s terrible that he did that” to try and save his sailors. He also asked Esper if Trump was responsible for Crozier being taken off-duty, and whether the Navy is doing everything possible to protect people from the virus.
Watch above, via CNN.
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