Acting Navy Secretary resigns after calling ousted aircraft carrier captain ‘stupid’

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FILE – In this Dec. 3, 2019, file photo, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly testifies during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee about about ongoing reports of substandard housing conditions in Washington, on Capitol Hill. Modly says the captain of the COVID-stricken aircraft carrier who was fired last week had betrayed his service and may have been “too naive or too stupid” to be commanding officer of the ship. Officials are confirming that Modly made the comments Sunday, April 5, 2020, to the ship’s crew in Guam. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly has resigned one day after a leaked audio showed him calling the ousted commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt “stupid” in an address to the ship’s crew.

The Navy did not respond to a request for comment.

Modly’s Monday morning remarks to the crew prompted sailors to yell back in frustration, President Donald Trump to say he might “get involved” in the matter, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper to order Modly to apologize, two US officials tell CNN.

The acting Navy secretary issued his late-night about-face apology Monday evening, just hours after he defended his comments to the aircraft carrier’s crew. But Modly’s belated declaration that he does “not think Captain Brett Crozier is naïve nor stupid” was not enough to protect his job.

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