WH And Pentagon Are Readying Pardons For Troops Facing Allegations Of War Crimes
President Donald Trump is preparing to intervene in three cases involving U.S. military service members charged with war crimes, and that intervention is expected any day, The Washington Post reported on Friday.
Trump’s action in all cases will involve “executive clemency, in which Trump can pardon someone or shorten a prison sentence through commutation,” three U.S. officials told the newspaper, and the White House and Pentagon officials have been hammering out the details for several days.
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 2010 death of a suspected Taliban bombmaker; former Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who recently was acquitted of murder but convicted of posing with the corpse of an Islamic State militant; 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.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who reportedly spoke with Trump on the subject last week, recently said of the matter: “I do have full confidence in the military justice system and we’ll let things play out as they play out,” Esper said. “I offered ― as I do in all matters ― the facts, the options, my advice, the recommendations and we’ll see how things play out.”
Some experts and military officials have raised concerns over the president’s impending pardons, decrying the move as a subversion of the legal process, The Post said. Senior military officials have said that Trump’s intervention “could undermine good order and discipline.”
However, all conceded that Trump has the authority as commander in chief to do as he pleases with the cases.