Joe Biden Says USS Roosevelt Captain ‘Should Have A Commendation Rather Than Be Fired’

ABC News

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was unequivocal Sunday in his support of the USS Theodore Roosevelt’s recently dismissed commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, saying he should receive “a commendation.”

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly dismissed Crozier from his post earlier this week after the captain sent correspondence to the Department of Defense pleading for help for his sailors, more than 100 of whom had been stricken with the coronavirus. Video showed Crozier leaving his ship to the cheers of his crews.

“I think it’s close to criminal the way they’re dealing with this guy,” Biden told ABC News’ “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “Not his conduct. The idea that this man stood up and said what had to be said, got it out that his troops, his Navy personnel, were in danger — in danger — look at how many have the virus. I think the guy should have a commendation rather than be fired.” (RELATED: ‘Sailors Do Not Need To Die’: Captain Of Aircraft Carrier With Coronavirus Cases Begs Navy For Help)

President Donald Trump said Saturday that he is in “100%” agreement with the Department of Defense’s verdict to dismiss Crozier as the skipper of the carrier.

Trump was critical of Crozier’s decision to visit a port in Vietnam earlier this year, with the president insisting he unnecessarily exposed his crew to the COVID-19 virus.

U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 3, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

Later on the show, Stephanopoulos asked Defense Secretary Mark Esper about the decision to fire Crozier. (RELATED: Over 100,000 Sign Petition To Reinstate USS Roosevelt Captain Fired Over Coronavirus Plea)

“With regard to your question about the captain of the ‘Teddy Roosevelt.’ Secretary [of the Navy] Modly made a tough decision, a tough call, I have full faith and confidence in him and the Navy leadership and I supported their decision.”

Esper denied that Trump made the decision for the Navy. “This was Secretary Modly’s call. He came and briefed me the night before, the morning of he sat down and talked to me. I listened to the recommendations. … It was the secretary’s Modly’s call and I told him I would support it.”

Esper would not speculate on what would happen to Crozier now.

“Well, George, I can’t talk too much about it because I’m in the chain of command, there’s also an investigation ongoing and it may fall on my desk at some point in time.”