Acting Navy Secretary Resigns after Suggesting Ousted Captain Was ‘Stupid’ for Writing Coronavirus Letter

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly at a hearing on Capitol Hill, December 3, 2019 (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned on Tuesday after calling an ousted aircraft carrier captain “stupid” and “naïve.”

Modly had apologized for the comments on Monday evening.

“I want to apologize to the Navy for my recent comments to the crew of the” USS Theodore Roosevelt, Modly said in a statement. “Let me be clear, I do not think Captain Brett Crozier is naïve nor stupid. I think, and always believed him to be the opposite.”

Modly flew to Guam on Monday, where he spoke to sailors after the removal of Crozier. Last week, Crozier wrote an email to superiors that was subsequently leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle, in which he pleaded for help with a coronavirus outbreak on the ship.

During his meeting with the sailors on Monday, Modly said Crozier was “stupid” or “naive” for thinking the email wouldn’t be leaked to the press. Modly also asserted that he had inquired about the outbreak on the ship before Crozier wrote the email, and that Crozier had told him the situation was under control.

President Trump, who initially criticized Crozier over the email, on Monday said he might intervene in the decision to remove the captain.

“I’m going to get involved and see exactly what’s going on there, because I don’t want to destroy somebody for having a bad day,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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