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News Wrap: Acting Navy Secretary Modly resigns after controversy

In our news wrap Tuesday, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly has resigned after a tirade against the former captain of a warship hit by COVID-19. Modly had said that fired Captain Brett Crozier was “too naive or too stupid” to hold his post. Also, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham is leaving her post to become the first lady’s chief of staff. She never held a formal press briefing.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: Acting U.S. Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly resigned after a tirade against the captain of a warship that's been hit by the coronavirus.

    Modly had fired Captain Brett Crozier of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt for sending out an e-mail plea to evacuate his crew. Then, on Sunday, the secretary addressed the crew in Guam, and lambasted Crozier.

  • Thomas Modly:

    It was my opinion that, if he didn't think that information was going to get out into the public, in this information age that we live in, then he was, A, too naive or too stupid to be the commanding officer of a ship like this.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Modly apologized last night for those comments.

    But calls for his ouster mounted. President Trump said this evening that he had no role in the resignation and wouldn't have asked Modly to leave. He also designated James McPherson as the new acting Navy secretary. He had become undersecretary of the Army just last month.

    White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham is leaving after nine months. At President Trump's direction, she never held a formal press briefing. She will now become the first lady's chief of staff, as well as continue her role as Mrs. Trump's press secretary.

    The new White House press secretary will be Kayleigh McEnany, who is now spokeswoman for the Trump reelection campaign.

    In Afghanistan, the Taliban has broken off talks with the Afghan government. The group says that negotiations on a prisoner exchange have gone nowhere. The U.S. reached a troop withdrawal agreement with the militants in February. It's supposed to be a first step toward a broader settlement.

    Australia's top court today threw out the criminal convictions against Roman Catholic Cardinal George Pell for sexually abusing children. The judges found there was reasonable doubt about his guilt. Pell was released after 13 months behind bars and driven to a monastery in Melbourne, as abuse survivor groups condemned the decision.

  • Maureen Hatcher:

    We just feel really sad, because the emotions are just so vast, really. And there's so much to think about and to take on in all this.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Pell had been the most senior Catholic Church official to be jailed in the long-running abuse scandal.

    The University of Michigan is sending letters to nearly 6,800 former student athletes in a sexual abuse investigation. The school wants them to speak investigators about allegations that go back to the 1960s. Former campus doctor Robert Anderson is accused of molesting students for decades. He died in 2008.

    A federal appeals court allowed Texas today to limit most abortions during the coronavirus pandemic. State officials have classified abortions as non-urgent procedures during the crisis. A lower court blocked the policy last week, but the appeals panel ruled that the state is protecting the public health. The ruling is likely to be appealed.

    A black pioneer in magazine publishing has passed away. Earl Graves Sr. died on Monday after battling Alzheimer's disease. In 1970, he launched "Black Enterprise." It was the first magazine about black entrepreneurs to be owned by an African-American, and he used it to champion black business.

    Earl Graves was 85 years old.

    And a so-called supermoon will light up the sky tonight over much of the country. The moon will be full and closer than usual, less than 220,000 miles from Earth. That should make it the brightest and the largest lunar show of the year.

    We need it.

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