Biden says it was “almost criminal” for the Navy to chase the captain who warned of an epidemic of coronavirus on an aircraft carrier

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“I think it’s close to the criminal, the way they deal with this guy. … The idea that this man stood up and said what should be said made it clear that his troops, his Navy personnel, were in danger, in danger – look how many have the virus, “said Biden in an interview with ABC News. ” This week. “

He added that Crozier “should be congratulated, rather than fired.”

Crozier was relieved of his duties Thursday under the leadership of Acting Secretary of the Navy, Thomas Modly, who said Crozier had used “poor judgment”, although he did not directly accuse Crozier of having leaked the letter. Two days later, President Trump defended Crozier’s ouster, telling reporters at the White House that it was “not appropriate” for Crozier to have written the letter.

The Navy said on Saturday that 155 servicemen from USS Theodore Roosevelt had tested positive for coronavirus, the largest US coronavirus outbreak to date. The service added that 44% of the crew had been tested for the virus.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper defended Crozier’s dismissal on Sunday, saying in a CNN “State of the Union” interview that Modly had “lost confidence and trust in the captain because of his leadership ”.

Esper argued that any suggestion that the Pentagon had failed to protect service members aboard the aircraft carrier was part of a “completely false story”.

“We have been leading since the early days,” he said.

Esper declined to say whether Trump had ordered the dismissal, noting that an investigation is still underway and that “when all of these facts arise, we will have a chance to understand why the secretary did what he did.”

The dismissal of Crozier, added Esper, “was just one example of how we hold people accountable for their actions. “

Dan Lamothe and Timothy Bella contributed to this report.

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