Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson will now make all decisions regarding sentencing for Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Eddie Gallagher, who was found not guilty of killing a wounded ISIS fighter but convicted of posing with the fighter's corpse, the Navy announced on Saturday.
“Richardson, in accordance with the Manual for Courts Martial, withheld Navy Region Southwest's authority to take any action in the Gallagher court-martial Saturday, Aug. 3,” a Navy statement says. “He will assume responsibility for any disposition action in the trial. Any previous post-trial action has been rescinded.”
Gallagher had been sentenced to reduction in rank to E-6 and time served, but his final sentence needed to be confirmed by the convening authority, which had been Rear Adm. Bolivar, commander of Navy Region Southwest.
Navy Times Editor Carl Prine first reported on Saturday that Richardson have removed all court-martial authority for the Gallagher case from Bolivar.
Gallagher's attorney Timothy Parlatore called Richardson's decision to become the convening authority “unprecedented” and he intends to provide the CNO with whatever information is required to finally resolve the case.
“Given the strong judgment and leadership the CNO showed the other day in resolving the Portier matter, we're very grateful and hopeful that this will help lead us to the ultimate resolution,” Parlatore told Task & Purpose on Saturday. “We'd like him to be able to retire with his E-7 pension.”
Richardson's decision comes after an enraged President Donald Trump ordered Richardson and Navy Secretary Richard Spencer to revoke Navy Achievement Medals that had been awarded to the prosecutors in the Gallagher case.
The president has been an outspoken advocate for Gallagher, whose legal team included three attorneys with ties to Trump, including the president's personal attorney Marc Mukasey. After Gallagher was found not guilty of murder, Trump tweeted, “Glad I could help!”