WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement in reaction in the wake of President Trump’s recent intervention in the Military Justice process, and the firing of Richard Spencer, the Secretary of the Navy:
“While the President has the authority to pardon a United States citizen, including members of the military, I urge extreme caution in using this authority, especially when the individual has been convicted through the extensive military justice process. A process, which includes appeals, and that has been upheld over the last five decades. The President certainly should not be trying to influence the outcome of this process or pardoning service members before the process is complete – doing so has the potential to seriously damage cohesiveness and discipline in the military. If a member of the armed services believes they don’t have to listen to their immediate superior because they can simply go over their head to the President and pundits on Fox News in order to get out of trouble, that is hugely problematic.
“The military services have the authority to administratively police standards, including the removal of honors like the coveted Trident badge earned by Navy Seals when they do not uphold the high standard and morals required. The President should not involve himself in these administrative procedures.
“Ultimately this is about maintaining the chain of command and good order and discipline. Both the chain of command and the military justice system are critical components of a fully functioning military. While the President sits atop that chain of command, he must also respect the leadership of those serving below him. When he uses his authority to override the military justice system, he is effectively undermining the chain of command, and that must stop.”