USA

Kaine blasts Navy leader's 'completely inappropriate' comments on fired captain

Sen. Tim Kaine slammed acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly today over the Navy leader's criticism of the captain of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, who was fired after raising alarms over the spread of coronavirus on the ship.

In provocative remarks made to the Roosevelt's crew and reported today by several media outlets, Modly criticized Capt. Brett Crozier for broadly emailing a letter requesting assistance for the ship's personnel, which was later published by Crozier's hometown newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle.

A transcript, as well as the audio of Modly's remarks to the crew, were leaked to several media outlets today.

The acting Navy secretary said Crozier was "too naive, or too stupid to be the commanding officer of a ship like this" if he thought the contents of his letter wouldn't become public.

"The alternative is that he did it on purpose," Modly said, according to a recording. "And that's a serious violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which you are all familiar with."

"It’s deeply disappointing that he would deliver a speech on board a U.S. aircraft carrier suggesting that Captain Crozier might be ‘stupid’ and bashing the media for trying to report the truth," added Kaine, a Virginia Democrat who represents a large swath of Navy installations and the shipbuilding industry. "These dedicated sailors deserve better from their leadership."

Kaine and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) penned a letter to Modly last week demanding details on how the service plans to safeguard personnel from the coronavirus.

Separately, 17 Democratic senators last week called for the Pentagon inspector general's office to investigate Crozier's firing as well as the outbreak on the Roosevelt.

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