Richard V. Spencer
|76th United States Secretary of the Navy|
August 3, 2017 – November 24, 2019*
|Preceded by||Sean Stackley|
|Succeeded by||Kenneth Braithwaite|
|Acting United States Deputy Secretary of Defense|
July 24, 2019 – July 31, 2019
|Preceded by||David Norquist (acting)|
|Succeeded by||David Norquist|
|Acting United States Secretary of Defense|
July 15, 2019 – July 23, 2019
|Deputy||David Norquist (acting)|
|Preceded by||Mark Esper (acting)|
|Succeeded by||Mark Esper|
Richard Vaughn Spencer
January 18, 1954
Waterbury, Connecticut, U.S.
|Education||Rollins College (BA)|
|Branch/service||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||1976–1981|
|*Thomas Modly served in an acting capacity from July 15 to July 31, 2019, while Spencer served as Acting Secretary and then Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense.|
Richard Vaughn Spencer (born January 18, 1954) is an American politician and businessman who served as the 76th United States Secretary of the Navy from August 3, 2017, to November 24, 2019. While serving as Secretary of the Navy, he also briefly served as Acting United States Secretary of Defense (July 15, 2019 – July 23, 2019) and Acting United States Deputy Secretary of Defense (July 24, 2019 – July 31, 2019). Spencer served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1976 to 1981 as a Marine Aviator and also served as Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer of Intercontinental Exchange from November 2001 to January 2008. Spencer served as Secretary of the Navy from August 3, 2017, to November 24, 2019, when Secretary of Defense Mark Esper requested his resignation over his handling of the Eddie Gallagher case. Spencer was displeased that the White House interfered and pressured him to let Gallagher retire as a Navy SEAL.
Born in 1954 in Waterbury, Connecticut, Spencer attended Rollins College as an undergraduate, majoring in economics. After graduating, he joined the United States Marine Corps, serving as a Marine Aviator from 1976 to 1981.
After leaving the Marines as a captain, he worked on Wall Street for 15 years, holding positions at Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, A. G. Becker, Paine Webber and Merrill Lynch. Spencer served on the Defense Business Board, a Pentagon advisory panel, from 2009 to 2015 and on the Chief of Naval Operations Executive Panel. During his time on the Defense Business Board, he proposed shutting down domestic military commissaries in favor of negotiated military discounts at public retailers.
In June 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Spencer to serve as the 76th United States Secretary of the Navy. Spencer was confirmed by the United States Senate on August 1, 2017. He was sworn in on August 3, 2017, and served until November 24, 2019.
On July 15, 2019, he assumed the duties of acting Secretary of Defense and expected "to continue to serve in this role until a Secretary of Defense nominee is confirmed by the Senate and assumes office. At that time, I will continue to serve as Secretary of the Navy." He assumed the duties of Deputy Secretary of Defense on July 23, 2019.
In November 2019, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper stated that he had learned that Spencer had proposed to White House officials that, if they did not interfere with military justice proceedings against Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, Spencer would ensure that Gallagher was able to retire with his Trident Pin, a symbol of membership in the SEALs. Gallagher had been convicted by court martial in July 2019 of wrongfully posing for an unofficial picture with a human casualty, and acquitted of six additional charges including murder. Spencer's private proposal to the White House – which he did not share with Esper over the course of several conversations about the matter – contradicted his public position on the Gallagher case, chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement. Esper fired Spencer on November 24, 2019, saying he was "flabbergasted" by Spencer going directly to the White House outside the chain of command. The next day Esper told reporters that Trump had issued an order that Gallagher be allowed to retire as a Navy SEAL.
In a letter to Trump acknowledging his termination, Spencer stressed his belief in the importance of "good order and discipline", saying, "Unfortunately, it has become apparent that... I no longer share the same understanding with the Commander in Chief who appointed me, in regards to the key principle of good order and discipline. I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took in the presence of my family, my flag and my faith to support and defend the Constitution of the United States."
On November 27, 2019, The Washington Post published an op-ed by Spencer, in which he said that Trump "has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military", and referred to Trump's actions in the Gallagher case as a "shocking and unprecedented intervention".
- Blake, Andrew (February 7, 2020). "Richard Spencer, Trump's former Navy secretary, endorses Michael Bloomberg in 2020 race". The Washington Times. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
- "Letter from Acting Secretary of Defense Richard V. Spencer to Pentagon". news.usni.org. July 15, 2019. Archived from the original on July 23, 2019. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
- "Statement by DOD Spokesman Jonathan Hoffman". U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
- McLaughlin, Elizabeth; Martinez, Luis (November 25, 2019). "Trump ordered Gallagher be allowed to retire as Navy SEAL, defense secretary says". ABC News. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
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- U.S. Navy. "U.S. Navy Biographies – Richard V. Spencer". Archived from the original on November 25, 2017. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
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- "Stocks". Archived from the original on May 8, 2017. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
- "President Trump moves to fill out top ranks at Pentagon". TheHill. Archived from the original on April 9, 2017. Retrieved May 2, 2017.
- Klimas, Jacqueline (March 9, 2017). "Former Marine Richard V. Spencer to be nominated for Navy Secretary". The Washington Examiner. Archived from the original on March 24, 2017. Retrieved August 21, 2017.
- "Newswire Bloomberg reported Trump offered Spencer the job on Thursday." Archived August 2, 2017, at the Wayback Machine (March 9, 2017)
- LaGrone, Sam (August 1, 2017). "Senate Confirms Richard V. Spencer as SECNAV, Ellen Lord as Pentagon Acquisition Chief". USNI News. Archived from the original on August 8, 2017. Retrieved August 7, 2017.
- Drew, Jonathan (August 3, 2017). "Marine Vet Richard V. Spencer Takes Over as Navy Secretary". Military.com. Archived from the original on September 20, 2017. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
- O’reilly, Andrew (November 24, 2019). "Eddie Gallagher controversy: Esper fires Navy secretary, SEAL will keep Trident pin, Pentagon says". Fox News. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
- Parker, Ashley; Lamothe, Dan. "Pentagon chief asks for Navy secretary's resignation over private proposal in Navy SEAL's case". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
- "Navy Secretary Richard Spencer's letter to the President acknowledging his termination". CNN. November 24, 2019. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
- "Fired navy secretary blasts Trump over 'shocking' handling of Navy seal case". The Guardian. Associated Press. November 28, 2019. Retrieved November 28, 2019.
- Spencer, Richard (November 27, 2019). "Richard Spencer: I was fired as Navy secretary. Here's what I've learned because of it". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 28, 2019.
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