WASHINGTON, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday asked Navy Secretary Richard Spencer to resign over his handling of a case involving a Navy SEAL's controversial conduct in Iraq, a spokesman for the Pentagon said.

"Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper has asked for the resignation of Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer after losing trust and confidence in him regarding his lack of candor over conversations with the White House involving the handling of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher," Jonathan Hoffman, the spokesman, said in a statement.

The request for Spencer to resign came as Esper learned the Navy secretary, without informing him, had privately proposed to the White House that Gallagher's rank in the prestigious unit be restored and that the troubled officer be allowed to retire as a Navy SEAL.

Gallagher was convicted in July of posing with the corpse of a captive in Iraq during his deployment there in 2017. He was demoted from chief petty officer to a first class petty officer.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in a Thursday tweet the Navy should not take away Gallagher's Trident pin that indicates his Navy SEAL status, and Esper, according to the Pentagon statement, "has directed" that Gallagher retain his insignia.

Esper has proposed to Trump that Kenneth Braithwaite, current U.S. Ambassador to Norway and a retired Navy Rear Admiral, be considered as Spencer's successor, the statement said.