US Defence Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday asked for the resignation of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer over his handling of a case involving a Navy SEAL officer who was accused of war crimes in Iraq.

The Washington Post reported that Esper requested the resignation of Richard Spencer after learning that he had privately proposed to the White House that he would ensure that Navy SEAL officer Eddie Gallagher “was able to retire as a Navy SEAL” if the White House officials “do not interfere with proceedings against Gallagher”.

In a statement, Esper said that he was “deeply disturbed” by Spencer’s conduct and “have determined that” he no longer “has my confidence to continue in his position”.