PROVIDENCE (AP) — U.S. Sen. Jack Reed says the president’s involvement in the case of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq erodes the military’s basic command structure and basic function of its justice system.

The Rhode Island Democrat is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He said Monday that Republican President Donald Trump’s interference was outrageous and irresponsible.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday that Trump gave him a direct order to allow Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher to retire without losing his SEAL status.

Gallagher was acquitted of murder in the stabbing death of an Islamic State militant captive but convicted of posing with the corpse in 2017.

Trump says he’s sticking up for members of the armed forces.

Esper fired Navy Secretary Richard Spencer Sunday.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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