Gregory Bull / AP
President Trump has granted pardon to two army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan and restored the rank of Navy SEAL, who was acquitted of murder in Iraq.
"For more than two hundred years, presidents have used their authority to open up second chances for deserving individuals, including those in uniform who have served our country," said Stephanie Grisham, White House spokesman, in a statement issued late Friday was released. "These actions are consistent with this long history."
Officers include the 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, who has served six years imprisonment on two counts of second-degree murder and obstruction of justice in Afghanistan to fire three unarmed men and kill two of them. He was convicted in 2013.
The other pardoned official is Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, a West Point graduate who was awaiting trial for allegedly killing a suspected Afghan bomb maker in 2010. The president also restored the rank of Special Warfare Operator chief Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL condemned to pose with a corpse of a hostile fighter in Iraq. Gallagher was acquitted in July 2019 for murder and other serious charges.
Some current and former Pentagon officials said the pardons, though legal, undermine the military justice system. The New York Times
opposed Esper's rejection of the three men as a bad role model to free other troops in the area. Without telling whether he supported the relief of the three service members, he last told reporters Week that he had "a robust discussion with the president" about their cases.
In May, Trump stated that he favored indulgence toward service members whose cases were highlighted by conservative media.
"Some of these soldiers are people who have fought hard and long," said the president. "You know, we teach them how to be great fighters, and when they fight, they are sometimes treated very unfairly."
In the White House statement, press spokesman Grisham underlined the idea that Trump would have the last word on military justice.
The President as Commander-in-Chief is ultimately responsible for enforcing the law and, if appropriate, grants that grace, "she wrote.