Trump granted Lorance and Army Major Mathew Golsteyn clemency and restored the rank of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher.
Video footage showed Lorance leaving Leavenworth Prison in Kansas and reuniting with his family.
“Number one is just, I’d like to say thanks to President Trump. I had the opportunity to talk to him today on the phone with Vice President Pence. He sounds just like he sounds on TV on the phone, he’s actually pretty funny too when you talk to him on the phone,” Lorance told reporters.
“It’s very clear to me that Vice President Pence and President Trump are very much in support of our military and I appreciate the whole country for everything that all of you have done.”
“This is only the beginning, I won’t spoil it but this is only the beginning. There’s a lot more we gotta do to get things fixed, but for now I’m going to spend some time with my family,” he added.
Lorance was convicted of ordering soldiers under his command to kill three suspected Taliban militants in Afghanistan. Nine members of the unit testified during the trial saying the men had not been part of the terror group.
Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) was among those celebrating Trump’s clemency decisions, writing: “Earlier this year, I requested a closer look into the serious irregularities in Army Lieutenant Clint Lorance’s case. Glad to see this news. Thank you, @realDonaldTrump!”
“For years, rampant prosecutorial misconduct, political correctness, and procedures that weight the scales of justice against the accused have personified our military justice system,” Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) added. “Today, thanks to the leadership of President Trump, these Pentagon armchair lawyers are being put on notice. The president recognizes that our combat warriors are to be supported in meeting the incredible responsibilities we place on them and I very much appreciate his advocacy for America’s warfighters.”
While today is a victory for our warfighters, I will remain committed to fixing our broken military justice system. Thank you @realDonaldTrump for your continued leadership on this issue.#FreeEddieGallagher #FreeMattGolsteyn #FreeClintLorance @JFWCaucus pic.twitter.com/KZLqJmvL0f
— Rep. Duncan Hunter (@Rep_Hunter) November 16, 2019
Earlier this year, I requested a closer look into the serious irregularities in Army Lieutenant Clint Lorance’s case.
Glad to see this news.
— Rep. Michael Waltz (@RepMichaelWaltz) November 16, 2019
A petition calling for a pardon of Lorance got over 100,000 signatures during the Obama administration, which replied saying it declined to comment on individual pardon applications.
“Leading his second patrol through a minefield in Afghanistan in late July 2012, 28-year-old Clint Lorance ordered fire upon three men speeding toward his soldiers on a motorcycle, killing two and wounding a third. He is now serving 20 years for murder in Leavenworth prison for trying to protect his soldiers,” the petition stated.
“The president has the chance to tell the military and our enemies that when we send our young sons and daughters into harm’s way we do not turn against them. The president has this chance to help the country begin to heal the wounds caused by this long war, just as President Lincoln used his powers to pardon soldiers in the Civil War, to try to heal the wounds.”