Trump Grants Pardons to 2 Military Members, Restores Rank to Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher

November 16, 2019 Updated: November 16, 2019

President Donald Trump has granted full pardons to two U.S. service members accused of war crimes, and restored the rank of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement late Friday that Trump had signed an Executive Grant of Clemency for Army First Lieutenant Clint Lorance and Army Major Mathew Golsteyn. Moreover, the statement said the commander-in-chief had also signed an order restoring the rank of Gallagher before he was tried and found not guilty of the charges against him.

“The president, as commander-in-chief, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted,” Grisham said in the statement. “For more than 200 years, presidents have used their authority to offer second chances to deserving individuals, including those in uniform who have served our country.”

“These actions are in keeping with this long history. As the president has stated, ‘When our soldiers have to fight for our country, I want to give them the confidence to fight,'” she said.

Lorance was found guilty of second-degree murder in 2013 for ordering his troops to fire at three unarmed men riding motorcycles toward them at unusual speeds. Two of three men were killed in the incident. He has served 6 of the 19 years he was sentenced for the conviction.

Meanwhile, Golsteyn, a former Green Beret, was accused of murdering an alleged terrorist bomb-maker during a deployment in Afghanistan in 2010.

Charges against Golsteyn had previously been dismissed through an administrative process, according to his attorney Phillip Stackhouse. But in 2018, Golsteyn was formally charged with murder, which carries a maximum penalty of death, after investigators reopened his case, following Golsteyn’s admission to a “version of the incidents” regarding the killing of the alleged bomb-maker, during an interview with Fox News host Bret Baier in 2016, according to Army Times.

During a CIA polygraph test, administered when Golsteyn was applying for a job at the spy agency, he also acknowledged fatally shooting the man.

A spokesman for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command said in a statement in 2018 that Golsteyn’s immediate commander “has determined that sufficient evidence exists to warrant the preferral of charges against him,” the news website reported. Golsteyn pleaded not guilty to the charges in June.

In October, Trump announced in a Twitter post that the White House was reviewing Golsteyn’s case.

“The case of Major Mathew Golsteyn is now under review at the White House,” Trump said on Oct. 12. “Mathew is a highly decorated Green Beret who is being tried for killing a Taliban bomb-maker. We train our boys to be killing machines, then prosecute them when they kill!”

Gallagher, on the other hand, was tried and cleared on charges for killing a wounded ISIS terrorist, but was demoted after the same jury convicted him for posing with a photo of the dead militant. Trump’s order will promote Gallagher back to the rank and pay grade of Chief Petty Officer.

Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.

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