Trump says U.S. Navy will not remove Gallagher's status as SEAL

WASHINGTON, Nov 21 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday blasted the U.S. Navy's handling of a U.S. Navy SEAL whose rank he recently restored following a court-martial, saying he would not allow the service to remove his SEALS status.

"The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin. This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!" Trump said in a post on Twitter.

A military jury convicted Gallagher of illegally posing with an Islamic State detainee's corpse while deployed to Iraq in 2017 but acquitted him of murder, prompting a demotion in rank and pay but not prison time.

Trump last week restored his rank and pay, and pardoned two Army officers who were separately accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.

U.S. officials and Gallagher's lawyer told Reuters on Tuesday that Navy officials were considering whether to remove him from the Navy's special operations force.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said at the time that Gallagher and three other SEALs were likely to be notified on Wednesday that they must appear before a board that will decide whether they should be stripped of their SEAL status.

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Trial of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher
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Trial of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher
FILE - In this Thursday, May 30, 2019, file photo, Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher leaves a military courtroom on Naval Base San Diego with his wife, Andrea Gallagher, in San Diego. Edward Gallagher, who has been charged with allegedly killing an Islamic State prisoner in his care and attempted murder for the shootings of two Iraq civilians in 2017, is scheduled to go on trial Monday, June 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Julie Watson, File)
Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, right, walks with his wife, Andrea Gallagher as they arrive to military court on Naval Base San Diego, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in San Diego. Jury selection continued Tuesday morning in the court-martial of the decorated Navy SEAL, who is accused of stabbing to death a wounded teenage Islamic State prisoner and wounding two civilians in Iraq in 2017. He has pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder, charges that carry a potential life sentence. (AP Photo/Julie Watson)
Edward Gallagher, a US Navy Special Operations Chief facing murder trial in the death of an Islamic State prisoner, leaves a military courtroom on Naval Base San Diego after a military judge cited interference by prosecutors, graphic element on gray
Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, left, hugs his wife, Andrea Gallagher, after leaving a military courtroom on Naval Base San Diego, Thursday, May 30, 2019, in San Diego. The decorated Navy SEAL facing a murder trial in the death of an Islamic State prisoner was freed Thursday from custody after a military judge cited interference by prosecutors. (AP Photo/Julie Watson)
U.S. Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher's defense attorney Tim Parlatore speaks to the media after opening arguments in the soldier's court-martial trial at Naval Base San Diego in San Diego, California , U.S., June 18, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
U.S. Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher leaves court with his wife Andrea, her name tattooed on his wrist, after the first day of jury selection at this court-martial trial at Naval Base San Diego in San Diego, California , U.S., June 17, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Former U.S. army member King Cohn arrives at court to support U.S. Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher during the first day of jury selection at the court-martial trial at Naval Base San Diego in San Diego, California , U.S., June 17, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The entrance to the courthouse at Naval Base San Diego is shown where jury selection begins in the court-martial trial of U.S. Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher in San Diego, California , U.S., June 17, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Defence attorney Timothy Parlatore, representing US Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, speaks with reporters at a pre-trial hearing for Gallagher's court martial for alleged war crimes in Iraq, in San Diego, California, U.S., May 22, 2019. REUTERS/Earnie Grafton
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(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Toby Chopra and Bernadette Baum)

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