Trump pardons former U.S. soldier convicted of killing Iraqi prisoner

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump has granted a full pardon to Michael Behenna, a former U.S. soldier convicted in 2009 of killing an Iraqi prisoner, the White House announced Monday.

Why it matters: Behenna was originally sentenced to 25 years in prison for unpremeditated murder in a combat zone after killing Ali Mansur Mohamed, which was later reduced to 15 years. The former Army first lieutenant has long said he acted in self-defense.

The big picture: Behenna was paroled in 2014 and had been scheduled to remain on parole until 2024. Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter petitioned the White House for the pardon.

What they're saying: White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that the highest appeal court "noted concern about how the trial court had handled Mr. Behenna's claim of self-defense."

"Mr. Behenna’s case has attracted broad support from the military, Oklahoma elected officials, and the public. ... Further, while serving his sentence, Mr. Behenna was a model prisoner. In light of these facts, Mr. Behenna is entirely deserving of this Grant of Executive Clemency."

What's next

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The state of play: The team put on a fairly conventional legal rebuttal — trying to poke holes in the House impeachment managers' case, and arguing that Democrats just don't have enough evidence of wrongdoing to throw Trump out of office — especially in a year when he's up for re-election.

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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

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Why it matters: Trump has a decent chance of avoiding witnesses and of losing zero Republican votes on conviction. When the news of Trump's Ukraine scandal broke, few thought every single Republican in the House and Senate would have his back. Bill Clinton pined for such unity. 

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The latest: The U.S. Embassy in Beijing announced plans to evacuate its Wuhan consulate personnel and some private citizens on a limited-capacity charter flight from the city to San Francisco on Tuesday, per AP, which reports that those "at greater risk from coronavirus" would be prioritized over others.

Go deeperArrowJan 20, 2020 - World