Key House Democrat calls for removal of acting U.S. Navy head

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, a Democrat, called on Monday for the removal of Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly and said he had lost confidence in him over his firing and rebuke of the commander of a coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier.

Representative Adam Smith’s call for Modly’s dismissal followed the public disclosure of a surprise speech by Modly earlier on Monday to the crew of the Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, in which he ridiculed Captain Brett Crozier and defended his decision to fire him. Crozier was revered by his crew for writing a letter that leaked publicly calling for more help from the Navy.

“Acting Secretary Modly’s decision to address the sailors on the Roosevelt and personally attack Captain Crozier shows a tone-deaf approach more focused on personal ego than one of the calm, steady leadership we so desperately need in this crisis,” Smith said in a statement.

“I no longer have confidence in Acting Secretary Modly’s leadership of the Navy and believe he should be removed from his position.”

Reporting by Phil Stewart, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

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