President Donald Trump is expected to intervene soon in at least one of several cases involving U.S. military members accused of war crimes, The Washington Post learned this week — a move that some Pentagon officials believe could prove damaging to military discipline and morale.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper reportedly spoke with Trump on the matter last week, but one official told The Post that the discussion was more of a “courtesy” during which the secretary likely “rehashed all the things [the president] expected to hear."
The three cases Trump has expressed interest in include “Army Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, a former Special Forces officer who faces a murder trial in the death of a suspected Taliban bomb maker; former Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who recently was acquitted of the most serious charges against him but convicted of a lesser war crime; and former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, who was convicted of second-degree murder in 2013 and is serving a 19-year prison sentence for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three men in Afghanistan.”
Lorance is likely the next case Trump will address, The Post reported, also noting that Lorance lost his case after nine members of his unit testified against him at trial.
David Gurfein, a retired Marine assisting Lorance’s family as the chief executive officer of United American Patriots, said people close to the president have indicated that Trump could make an announcement about the case as soon as Wednesday — coincidentally, the same day public impeachment inquiry hearings begin in the House.
Trump appears to have an affinity for intervening in such military cases, indicating his belief that military members are treated unfairly when it comes to potential war crimes.
The president tweeted about Golsteyn last month, suggesting he might take action in the case in the near future, writing: “The case of Major Mathew Golsteyn is now under review at the White House. Mathew is a highly decorated Green Beret who is being tried for killing a Taliban bombmaker. We train our boys to be killing machines, then prosecute them when they kill!”