Washington, D.C. — The Center for American Progress Action Fund is releasing a new video in a social media campaign to highlight President Donald Trump’s failure as commander in chief to keep members of the USS Theodore Roosevelt safe during the coronavirus crisis. According to new reporting, the Pentagon has expanded its investigation into the coronavirus outbreak aboard the Roosevelt after then-Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly fired the ship’s captain, Brett Crozier, days after he warned his superiors of the spread of the virus aboard the carrier.
The new video shares the voice of Jon Altmann, a retired senior chief intelligence specialist of the U.S. Navy. Altmann served in the Navy for 22 years and was responsible for the well-being of about 2,000 sailors aboard his ship. At the time of Capt. Crozier’s ouster, President Trump, who has largely downplayed the scope of the coronavirus crisis for his own political interest and frequently lashes out at anyone who criticizes his leadership, lambasted Crozier, saying, “I thought it was inappropriate for the captain of the ship … I agree with their decision [to fire him] 100 percent.” As Altmann says in the video, by adhering to the U.S. Navy regulations, which state that the commanding officer “has the continued responsibility for the safety, well-being and efficiency of the entire command,” Capt. Crozier, who himself tested positive for COVID-19, was doing his job and was trying to keep everyone aboard the ship safe.
“Well, I think I’d have done the same thing,” Altmann says. “I bet you Capt. Crozier can look himself in the mirror and say, ‘I did OK.’”
President Trump’s rebuke of Capt. Crozier came the same day that 137 members of the USS Theodore Roosevelt tested positive for COVID-19. Altmann contrasts President Trump’s COVID-19 response to past presidential and naval leadership.
“I’ve been through Reagan, Carter, Bush, Obama—there’s one thing a president can do that is unique to the office: If they don’t think a problem is getting enough attention, they can pick up a phone and direct a bunch of resources,” said Altmann. “President Trump, what will he do in terms of something that is directly affecting the lives of many military personnel? To do everything necessary for the good of the nation, we don’t need rhetoric. We need solutions.”
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