A boutique lawyer attorney representing President Donald Trump, his family, and the Trump Organization also represents a US Navy SEAL accused of war crimes.
Attorney Marc Mukasey of the law firm Mukasey, Frenchman & Sklaroff, was sworn in as a member of the defense team of Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward "Eddie" Gallagher on Wednesday.
Mukasey is a former partner of Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, and is currently representing the President and his family in ongoing court cases. Mukasey recently joined a motion to block Deutsche Bank and Capital One from meeting a Congress summons to hand over financial documents related to the Trumps.
The presence of Trump's personal lawyer represents another crease in a process already complicated by the President. The role of Trump as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces raised the question of whether Mukasey's appearance constituted a conflict of interest in the case.
Mukasey denied consulting the White House and said joining Gallagher's lawyer team was entirely his own decision.
"I've never talked to the White House about Eddie Gallagher, I'm a litigator," Mukasey told INSIDER. "My role will be in the courtroom, defending a hero who was wrongly accused." That's been. "
Eugene Fidell, who teaches military justice at the Yale Law School and is a former US Coast Guard lawyer, said Gallagher had a legal right to whom he wanted to represent.
"I do not see this as a professional responsibility issue," Fidell told INSIDER. "But a reasonable observer might wonder if he was hoped to have the kind of access that could help obtain a pardon or some form of mercy."
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Gallagher to appear in court on May 28 for killing an enemy prisoner and shooting down Iraqi civilians in 2017 Postponed suspects prosecutors Have software placed in emails to uncover a source that forwards information to the media. Main defender Tim Parlatore stated that the prosecutor's office violated the privileges of lawyers and clients and their protection against illegal searches.
Trump said he would apologize to Gallagher in addition to other military officials and service members who are either already convicted or charged with war crimes, two US officials quoted in a New York Times report. Trump officials have reportedly rushed to petition the Department of Justice for pardons for Gallagher and the others.
According to reports, officials set a deadline for the paperwork until Memorial Day weekend, just before the trial of Gallagher was due to begin.
"Some of these soldiers are people who have long fought hard," Trump told reporters Friday. "You know, we teach them how to be great fighters, and when they eventually fight, they're really treated very unfairly."
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Can Trump apologize to a non-convicted member of the military?
As Commander-in-Chief, Trump has the authority to excuse Chief Gallagher before completing his trial, according to Fidell.
"A president can grant a pardon or other form of grace before a conviction, conviction, trial and indictment – but not before the offense itself," said Fidell.
"The President is a convening agency under the Act of Congress," Fidell added. "The rules provide that a higher level convening agency can take the case of a subordinate conscription board and decide what to do with it."
However, lawyers and former lawyers of military judges have investigated a potential trap – a relatively rare scenario in which Trump's connections could meet the standard for unlawfully influencing military litigation.
In March, Trump showed interest in the trial when he tweeted reference to Gallagher's "former service to our country" and ordered the Navy to transfer him to a "less restrictive" detention facility while he was serving waiting for his judgment. warlike.
"When a commander tries to influence the outcome of a court-martial, this is known as an inadmissible command influence," Dr. Dwight Stirling, former Chief of National Guard Californian Army Military Justice, to INSIDER. "In fact, unlawful command influence is a crime in itself, and a commander's attempt to influence the outcome of a court-martial may result in the commander who tried this being tried before a court-martial."
"This is a situation that is so unusual."
But Trump's position in the Gallagher case does not follow the traditional norms for an unlawful claim to influence.
"This is a situation that is so unusual," said Stirling. "I've never seen a commander trying to influence a court-martial on behalf of a defendant."
"It's the command that convenes the court-martial, it's the command that puts the court-martial into action and puts it into action," Stirling added. "But in this scenario, the commander-in-chief takes steps to influence the trial on behalf of the defendant."
Fidell agreed that a US president could unlawfully direct his command, arguing that Trump's potential support for the defendant would reverse the traditional scenario, as it would benefit the defendant rather than harm him.
"I would say that it is inappropriate or unwise, but it is not what is traditionally considered an impermissible command influence," Fidell said. "That does not make it any better, because the concept behind the illegal influence of command is not only to protect the defendants' right to a fair trial, but also the integrity of the military justice system and the public's trust in the administration of justice."
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A divided military community.
Trump's connections to the Gallagher case split the military community. Former high-ranking military officials such as retired US Navy commander William McRaven, who overseen Osama bin Laden's raid, warned Trump of the consequences of interference in the military's judicial system.
"I think the president needs to be very careful at this point," McRaven said during an interview with Fox News on Tuesday. "Obviously, the president can excuse who he thinks fit, but as you know … the way it works in the military is that you, as commander-in-chief, have to be careful to unduly influence the process, before you can
The retired General of the US Army, Barry McCaffrey, one of the most decorated officers of the US Army retired, also had a strong message for Trump.
"When pardoning US personnel convicted by a military tribunal for directly killing unarmed inmates or civilians, he has taken a step to dishonor our forces," McCaffrey wrote in a Washington Post column. "There are better ways to honor the many sacrifices and benefits of American forces and veterans than to relieve the few who do not abide by the rules."
In the meantime, Gallagher was of Republican legislatures surround conservative media personalities who demanded his immediate release.
Republican Duncan Hunter of California, a veteran of the Marine Corps and outspoken supporter of Trump, claimed that Gallagher had been treated unfairly by the prosecution.
"As Commander-in-Chief, the constitutional authority of President Donald Trump ensures that American war fighters receive a fair trial when they are charged with crimes," Hunter wrote in a column of "USA Today." "Accordingly, the president has every right to act if the prosecutor's behavior becomes so corrupt that it is not possible."
Fox News veteran Pete Hegseth also published a column entitled, "It's time for us to turn our backs."
"They can not judge their decisions, and neither do I," added Hegseth. "We're sending men who fight on our behalf, and guessing too often how they fight Count me off at quarterback on Monday morning – I'm all along with the American warrior."