Acting Navy secretary Thomas Modly, in an extensive interview about the firing of the commander of a disease-threatened aircraft carrier, said he acted because he believed the captain was “panicking” under pressure — and wanted to make the move himself, before President Trump ordered the captain’s dismissal.“I didn’t want to get into a decision where the president would feel that he had to intervene because the Navy couldn’t be decisive,” Modly told me in a telephone call from Hawaii at about 1 a.m. Sunday, Washington time. He continued: “If I were president, and I saw a commanding officer of a ship exercising such poor judgment, I would be asking why the leadership of the Navy wasn’t taking action itself.”Modly offered a lengthy account of his actions in the dismissal Thursday of Capt. Brett Crozier, the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt. The nuclear-power aircraft carrier with a crew of about 4,800 had been stricken by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus. On March 30, Crozier sent an emotional email pleading for help, which leaked the next day. Two days after that, Modly fired him — generating criticism from former senior military officials, who expressed deep concern about the impact


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