Trump's pick to lead Navy suddenly retires over questions about his 'judgment'


Admiral William Moran will not become the Navy's top officer, adding more turmoil in the military under Trump's leadership.

The man Trump tapped to be the nation's top Navy officer, Adm. William Moran, suddenly announced his retirement Sunday morning, adding more chaos to a leaderless military under Trump.

Moran's unexpected retirement announcement came about because of "poor judgment regarding a professional relationship," according to the Associated Press, which first broke the story. Moran maintained a relationship with Chris Servello, a disgraced retired Naval officer who was accused of sexually harassing junior officers while dressed up as Santa Claus at a holiday party.

"Adm. Bill Moran recently brought to my attention that over the past two years he maintained a professional relationship with an individual who was held accountable and counseled for failing to meet the values and standards of the Naval profession," Richard Spencer, secretary of the Navy, said in a statement. "While I admire his faithful service and commitment to the Navy, this decision on his part to maintain that relationship has caused me to call his judgment into question. Therefore, today I accepted Adm. Moran's request to retire."


As chief of naval operations, Moran would have been responsible for the Navy's training and preparedness. Adm. John Richardson, currently in the position, will delay his retirement until a replacement for Moran is confirmed by the Senate.

Moran's sudden departure highlights Trump's difficulty with filling top roles in his administration, and especially top roles for the military. Four of the top five civilian posts are operating without a Senate-confirmed leader: secretary of defense, deputy secretary of defense, Air Force secretary, and Army secretary.

The secretary of defense position has been officially empty for 188 days, after Jim Mattis resigned and wrote a blistering letter slamming Trump's foreign policy on his way out the door. Trump's pick to replace Mattis, Patrick Shanahan, had filled the role in an acting capacity for all of 2019. But Shanahan abruptly withdrew his name from consideration for the permanent role amidst a family domestic violence scandal.

Mark Esper, who until recently was the secretary of the Army, is now the acting secretary of defense. Trump says he plans to nominate Esper for the permanent position, but the White House has still not submitted the official nomination paperwork to the U.S. Senate.

In leaked memos, a British ambassador recently called the Trump administration "inept" and "incompetent." Trump's inability to fill top positions in his administration lends credence to the ambassador's assessment.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.