Nov 16, 2019

Trump pardons armed services members accused of war crimes

President Trump. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Images via Getty Images

President Trump issued full pardons to two Army officials and restored the rank of a Navy SEAL — each of whom had been accused or convicted of war crimes — the White House announced on Friday.

Why it matters: The intervention came despite opposition raised by military justice experts and Pentagon officials. "The moves signaled that as commander in chief, Mr. Trump intends to use his power as the ultimate arbiter of military justice," the New York Times writes.

The state of play:

  • Army First Lieutenant Clint Lorance served more than six years of his 19-year sentence for the murder of two civilians.
  • Special Forces officer Major Matthew Golsteyn will have a murder charge dropped for killing an Afghan citizen he thought was a Taliban bomb-maker.
  • Chief Petty Officer Edward Ghallagher, a Navy SEAL, was found guilty of bringing discredit on the armed forces, by posing in a photo with the corpse of a captive he was accused of killing. He will have his rank restored after being demoted to petty officer first class.

Between the lines: The three people had been promulgated as "war heroes unfairly prosecuted for actions taken in the heat and confusion of battle," the Times writes.

  • But military brass pushed back against the action, saying it would undermine the military's code of justice, according to Business Insider.

Go deeper: Where U.S. troops and military assets are deployed in the Middle East

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Navy plans to move forward with disciplinary actions against Edward Gallagher

Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher walks out of military court with his wife. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Top military officials have threatened to resign or be fired if President Trump's pardon to Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher holds, administration officials told the New York Times on Saturday.

Why it matters: The pushback from Navy secretary, Richard V. Spencer, and Rear Adm. Collin Green represents a rare moment of defiance from the Defense Department against the Trump administration, the Times notes. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley explained to the president that if he followed up a tweet with a formal order, it would "do untold damage to decades of military justice doctrine," administration officials told the Times.

Go deeperArrowNov 23, 2019

Military officials say Trump's SEAL interventions embolden war criminals

Trump speaks to U.S. troops during a Thanksgiving day visit at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Nov. 28. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump's interference in Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher's war crimes case has military officials worried that trust between the president and armed forces has been upended, according to the New York Times.

What they're saying: Chris Shumake, a former sniper who served in Gallagher’s platoon, said in an interview with the Times that Gallagher's case has "blown up bigger than any of us could have ever expected, and turned into a national clown show that put a bad light on the teams. [Trump's] trying to show he has the troops’ backs, but he’s saying he doesn’t trust any of the troops or their leaders to make the right decisions.”

Go deeperArrowDec 1, 2019

Trump reportedly stands down in fight for Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher

Edward Gallagher walks out of military court with his wife. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

The Navy has been informed that the White House will not intervene to halt the SEALs from removing Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher from their unit, AP reports.

The backstory: Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer and the Navy SEALs' leading admiral Collin Green have threatened to resign or be fired if President Trump stops plans to expel Gallagher, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

Go deeperArrowNov 24, 2019