“I didn’t want to get into a decision where the president would feel that he had to intervene because the Navy couldn’t be decisive,” Modly told me in a telephone call from Hawaii at about 1 a.m. Sunday, Washington time. He continued: “If I were president, and I saw a commanding officer of a ship exercising such poor judgment, I would be asking why the leadership of the Navy wasn’t taking action itself.”…

Modly narrated to me the events of last week to explain his growing concern that Crozier had “lost situational awareness” and that the captain wasn’t communicating clearly with the chain of command or the acting Navy secretary himself. He also described the shadow overhanging the Navy after Trump’s controversial intervention last fall in the case of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher.

Modly explained that his predecessor, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, “lost his job because the Navy Department got crossways with the president” in the Gallagher case. “I didn’t want that to happen again.” The acting secretary reiterated the point later in the conversation: “I put myself in the president’s shoes. I considered how the president felt like he needed to get involved in Navy decisions [in the Gallagher case and the Spencer firing]. I didn’t want that to happen again.”