Washington — Thomas Modly, the acting secretary of the Navy, submitted his resignation on Tuesday, one day after a recording of him was pushed out last fall, backtracked on his comments in a statement Monday, saying he believes Crozier is neither "naive nor stupid."
"I believe, precisely because he is not naive and stupid, that he sent his alarming email with the intention of getting it into the public domain in an effort to draw public attention to the situation on his ship," Modly said. "I apologize for any confusion this choice of words may have caused. I also want to apologize directly to Captain Crozier, his family, and the entire crew of the Teddy Roosevelt for any pain my remarks may have caused."
Videos showed sailors cheering for Crozier as he left the ship Friday following his ouster.
President Trump said Monday that he would "get involved" in the dispute. He emphasized repeatedly that Crozier's letter "shouldn't have been sent," but hinted that Modly's comments might have gone too far.
"With all of that said, his career prior to that was very good. So I'm going to get involved and see exactly what's going on there because I don't want to destroy somebody for having a bad day," Mr. Trump said about Modly.
Pressure was growing for Modly's ouster on Monday and Tuesday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was among those calling for his resignation, saying his "actions and words demonstrate his failure to prioritize the force protection of our troops."
"He showed a serious lack of the sound judgment and strong leadership needed during this time. Acting Secretary Modly must be removed from his position or resign," Pelosi said in a statement.
David Martin and Jordan Freiman contributed to this report.