Trump Clears Three Service Members in War Crimes Cases
The moves signaled that as commander in chief, Mr. Trump intends to use his power as the ultimate arbiter of military justice.
By Dave Philipps
Nov. 15, 2019
President Trump cleared three members of the armed services on Friday who have been accused or convicted of war crimes, overruling military leaders who had sought to punish them. All three have been championed by conservative lawmakers and commentators, who have portrayed them as war heroes unfairly prosecuted for actions taken in the heat and confusion of battle.
In a statement released by the White House late Friday, Mr. Trump announced that he was ordering the full pardon of Clint Lorance, a former Army lieutenant, from the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, where he is serving a 19-year sentence for the murder of two civilians.
He ordered the full pardon of Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, an Army Special Forces officer who was facing murder charges for killing an unarmed Afghan he believed was a Taliban bomb maker.
And he reversed the demotion of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was acquitted of murder charges but convicted of a lesser offense in a high-profile war crimes case over the summer.
“The President, as Commander-in-Chief, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted,” the White House statement said. “As the President has stated, ‘when our soldiers have to fight for our country, I want to give them the confidence to fight.’”
The moves signaled that as commander in chief, Mr. Trump intends to use his power as the ultimate arbiter of military justice in ways unlike any other president in modern times.