A retired Marine colonel and former press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security sharply criticized President Donald Trump on Sunday for meddling in the military’s chain of command “in an unprecedented way” by reinstating the rank of a Navy SEAL who was convicted of a war crime.
Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” former Col. David Lapan told co-host Martha Raddatz that Trump showed “very little to no understanding of the military that he professes to love” when he defied senior military personnel and reinstated Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher last month. Lapan served as DHS secretary as recently as 2017 and is currently vice president of communications at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank. His biography on the center’s website credits him with over 30 years of military service.
On Nov. 24, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was fired after trying to convince Trump not to involve himself in Gallagher’s disciplinary proceedings.
Gallagher was found guilty of posing for photographs with the corpse of a member of the so-called Islamic State. He was also accused of killing that fighter, as well as shooting at civilians and threatening to kill SEALs who reported him, but he was acquitted of those charges.
Gallagher has become a darling of the conservative movement. Trump has sent several tweets mentioning him by name, and Gallagher has made numerous appearances across right-wing media to tell his story and promote a conservative clothing line.
Lapan was joined in his “This Week” interview by retired Navy Cmdr. Kirk Lippold and Kyleanne Hunter, a former Marine Corps officer who currently works at the gun control organization Brady. Lippold supported Trump’s involvement in the Gallagher case; Hunter did not.
Watch the full clip from “This Week” below: