Thomas Modly had been on the job for just over four months after his predecessor, Richard Spencer, was forced out amid a disagreement with President Trump over the handling of the Eddie Gallagher case. This week, Modly came under intense pressure to resign due to his handling of the situation on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that quickly went from having three COVID-19 cases to hundreds among a crew of nearly 5,000 sailors after a port visit to Vietnam in early March.
In making a decision so quickly without completing an investigation into the leak, Modly revealed there were other concerns on his mind, particularly the views of President Trump. In November, Trump clashed with Navy leaders over his support of disgraced Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, a dispute that ultimately led to former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer’s departure and Modly’s elevation. When asked about Crozier’s letter over the weekend, Trump said, “I thought it was terrible what he did, to write a letter. This isn’t a class on literature. This is a captain of a massive ship that’s nuclear-powered.”