Trump Pardons, Intervenes in Three War Crime Cases Involving U.S. Service Members

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Posted: Nov 15, 2019 7:05 PM
Trump Pardons, Intervenes in Three War Crime Cases Involving U.S. Service Members

Source: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Trump has intervened in three military justice cases, issuing at least two pardons where U.S. service members have been accused of war crimes, The Washington Post reported on Friday. The president's actions have been expected as officials have debated the president's involvement in the cases over the past several weeks.

(Via The Washington Post)

The service members involved were notified by Trump over the phone, said the U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue. Army Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, who faced a murder trial scheduled to begin next year, took the phone call and was informed he would receive a full pardon, said his lawyer, Phillip Stackhouse. ...

Other U.S. officials and advocates for the service members involved have said that adopting the president’s desires in the military justice system should not be difficult. It typically focuses with commanders overseeing the process, with Trump serving at the top of that system as commander in chief.

According to The Post, Former Special Forces officer Army Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn was charged with murdering a suspected Taliban bombmaker in 2010. Golsteyn maintains his killing of the suspected bombmaker had been legal. In the second case, Former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance was convicted of murder after he ordered his troops to open fire on three individuals in Afghanistan. In the third case, Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward Gallagher, a Navy Seal, was convicted of posing with the corpse of an Islamic State militant.

In early October, Trump tweeted that he was reviewing the Golsteyn case, calling Golsteyn a highly decorated Green Beret. Trump tweeted, "We train our boys to be killing machines, then prosecute them when they kill!"

The White House issued the following statement Friday night about the president's actions in the three cases.

"Today, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Grant of Clemency (Full Pardon) for Army First Lieutenant Clint Lorance, an Executive Grant of Clemency (Full Pardon) for Army Major Mathew Golsteyn, and an order directing the promotion of Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward R. Gallagher to the grade of E-7, the rank he held before he was tried and found not guilty of nearly all of the charges against him. ...

The President, as Commander-in-Chief, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted. For more than two hundred years, presidents have used their authority to offer second chances to deserving individuals, including those in uniform who have served our country.  These actions are in keeping with this long history.  As the President has stated, 'when our soldiers have to fight for our country, I want to give them the confidence to fight.'"