Navy drops all charges against Eddie Gallagher's platoon commander

(Photo: CNN/screenshot)

The Navy has dropped all charges against Lt. Jacob X. Portier, the former platoon commander for Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Eddie Gallagher, who had been accused of failing to report alleged war crimes up the chain of command, the Navy said on Thursday.

"Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson today dismissed all charges in the case of Lt. Jacob Portier. He also withheld authority to take any action in the case of Petty Officer 1st Class Corey Scott," a statement from the Navy read, also referencing the enlisted SEAL medic who prosecutors were considering charging with perjury over his surprising testimony during the Gallagher court-martial, in which he said he, not Gallagher, had killed a wounded ISIS fighter.

"Additionally, as part of an ongoing assessment of Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps performance, Richardson directed Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bob Burke to conduct a Comprehensive Review into the leadership and performance of the JAG Corps. This review is intended to ensure the JAG Corps provides exemplary support to the Navy and the nation."

Portier's attorney, Jeremiah Sullivan, did not respond to a request for comment from Task & Purpose. Brian Ferguson, an attorney representing Scott, told Task & Purpose his client was "profoundly grateful the President and Chief of Naval Operations have intervened to exonerate LT Portier. LT Portier was a model of courage on the battlefield in the fight against ISIS and back home in the defense of his platoon."

The end of the Portier case comes after the attorney for the SEAL officer raised questions on Wednesday with the judge, Capt. Aaron Rugh, over possible unlawful command influence in the case that reached to the highest levels of the Navy.

Portier, who joined the Navy in 2010 and had been serving as a SEAL officer since 2012, had been charged with obstruction and other related charges for allegedly failing to report to his superiors on Gallagher, his platoon chief who had been accused of war crimes during a deployment to Iraq in 2017.

Portier has maintained his innocence and was scheduled to go to court martial in September. Gallagher was later found not guilty on the most serious charges.

Portier in a helmet cam video taken in Iraq in 2017, which was shown in the Gallagher court-martial

The news of charges being dropped was first reported by Andrew Dyer at San Diego Union-Tribune.

There is "some new evidence regarding UCI that we will be requesting the court to consider," Jeremiah Sullivan, Portier's civilian defense attorney, wrote in an email to the judge on Wednesday evening.

"The Defense has been made aware the Navy Judge Advocate General received an Letter of Instruction (LOI) or similar derogatory paperwork from the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) regarding the Gallagher case," he added.

"Also, there was a big meeting in DC hosted by the CNO were he counseled senior Judge Advocates about the JAGC's failures in the Gallagher case. Today, the Commodore of [Naval Special Warfare Group One] visited SEAL Teams to address issues of SEAL misconduct. We are gravely concerned about the CNO's actions and implications on LT Portier."

The Navy had tried Gallagher on allegations of murder, attempted murder, obstruction, and unlawfully posing for a photo with a corpse. The case, which was marred by setbacks that included the removal of the lead prosecutor, ended in July with Gallagher being found guilty only on the photo charge.

And in a stunning move on Wednesday, President Donald Trump ordered the Navy to rescind awards given to members of the Gallagher prosecution team, which he called "ridiculous."

Portier had been serving with SEAL Team 7 until he had been charged in Oct. 2018. It was not yet clear whether he would be returning to the unit.

Naval Special Warfare command did not not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This story has been updated.

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