Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, right, arrives for a pretrial hearing with his defense counsel Lt. Col. Franklin D. Rosenblatt. Photo: Ted Richardson / AP

A judge has ruled that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who walked off his outpost in Afghanistan, should serve no prison time. Bergdahl "was suffering from schizotypal personality disorder" at the time, according to psychiatrist Dr. Charles Morgan, who testified on Wednesday, the AP reports.

Why it matters: The Hailey, Idaho, native pleaded guilty to misbehavior before the enemy and desertion; the first charge could have resulted in a maximum sentence of life in prison, while the latter could have resulted in a five-year maximum sentence.

1. What happened in Afghanistan
  • In June 2009, Bergdahl walked off of his outpost in Afghanistan. He said, and a military investigation confirmed, he was trying to reach forward operating base Sharana miles away, to blow the whistle on mismanagement in his unit.
  • He was captured by the Taliban before he could get to Sharana, and held captive for five years, undergoing torture (chained to a bed for months on end, being locked in a cage). He later said he made at least a dozen escape attempts.
  • A division chief for the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, Terrence Russell, said Bergdahl's experiences in captivity could be used for military survival training.
  • President Obama swapped Bergdahl for five Guantanamo Bay detainees in 2014.
2. The controversies around his captivity and release
  • Following his release, questions arose about the soldiers who searched for him during his captivity and whether there were deaths related to that mission. Officials said there was no evidence of deaths, but five soldiers involved in Bergdahl's search-and-rescue mission testified last Wednesday about injuries they sustained while looking for him.
  • President Obama did not notify Congress 30 days before transferring the five terrorists traded for Bergdahl, as required by law. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said that given Bergdahl's serious health conditions and Obama's responsibilities as president, it was determined necessary to follow through with the swap before giving notice.
3. How the trial unfolded
  • In August, Bergdahl chose to be tried by a military judge (Col. Jeffery Nance) instead of a jury.
  • He pleaded guilty in October to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
  • In 2015, Trump tweeted that Bergdahl "should face the death penalty for desertion," and later during the 2016 election said he should be executed via firing squad, or thrown out of a plane without a parachute. Bergdahl's defense cited these comments as reasons why the trial is impossible -- Trump is the military's commander in chief, and the judge in this case report to Trump. However, Nance said on Monday he was "completely unaffected" by Trump's comments.
  • The injuries of the soldiers who searched for Bergdahl are also under consideration for his sentencing. Bergdahl's commanding officer, Capt. John Billings, described the psychological toll soldiers experienced during their mission. Now-retired Navy SEAL James Hatch, who cried on the stand recounting his perspective, was shot in the leg while looking for Bergdahl and has had 18 surgeries since, effectively ending his career. Army Master Sergeant Mark Allen is now in a wheelchair and unable to speak after he was shot in the head during an ambush while on the mission.
  • Per the AP, Bergdahl told Nance: "I understand that leaving was against the law."
  • Two agents testified on Tuesday that Bergdahl was a "gold mine" of helpful intelligence, regarding "insurgents and how they imprison hostages," per the AP.
  • One agent said Bergdahl's time in captivity was psychologically damaging due to being kept in isolation for such a long period of time; "They simply shut the door. Long-term isolation...It was extreme neglect."

Go deeper

Changing the inflation conversation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Inflation looks like it’ll run hot for longer than plenty of smart people thought it would. The conversation over just how much more Americans will have to pay for their stuff has taken on a new intensity, as supply problems show few signs of fading.

Why it matters: The rate of price growth has remained consistently strong in recent months — a time that some thought would bring cooling prices after an initial reopening spike. What goes on with prices will influence the decisions made by Congress, the Biden Administration, and the Federal Reserve.

The biggest headline from Biden's town hall

President Biden greets attendees during a commercial break in Baltimore last night. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

What matters from President Biden's town hall with CNN's Anderson Cooper at Baltimore Center Stage on Thursday, via Axios night owl Hans Nichols:

The biggest headline: Biden is jettisoning the corporate tax increases that White House officials have insisted, for the past 10 months, are wildly popular across the country. He admitted he doesn't have the votes.

Trump, your 2024 GOP nominee

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Former President Trump is telling most anyone who'll listen he will run again in 2024 — and poll after poll shows the vast majority of Republicans would gladly cheer him on and vote for him. 

Why it matters: Trump is the heart, soul and undisputed leader of the Republican Party and will easily win the nomination if he wants it, the polls make unmistakably clear.