Friday night, President Trump granted full pardons to 2 U.S. soldiers convicted of war crimes: Army First Lieutenent Clint Lorance, who was convicted after ordering his men to kill 3 Afghans, and Army Major Mathew Golsteyn, who killed a suspected Taliban bomb maker.
President Trump also restored the rank of Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher, who 5 months ago was found not guilty after being accused of stabbing to death an injured ISIS member.
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President Trump has granted clemency to two Army officers accused or convicted of war crimes and restored Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher to the rank of chief petty officer after he was docked a pay grade after being convicted of posing for a photo with a dead Islamic State (ISIS) fighter, the White House announced Friday.
Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance could be released from the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, as soon as Friday evening, six years after being found guilty of second-degree murder. Maj. Matt Golsteyn, a former Green Beret, will have the murder charge against him dropped.
"Today, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Grant of Clemency (Full Pardon) for Army First Lieutenant Clint Lorance, an Executive Grant of Clemency (Full Pardon) for Army Major Mathew Golsteyn, and an order directing the promotion of Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward R. Gallagher to the grade of E-7, the rank he held before he was tried and found not guilty of nearly all of the charges against him," the White House said in a statement Friday night.
Lorance was six years into serving a 19-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth for ordering his soldiers to open fire and kill three men in Afghanistan. Lorence’s supporters say he killed Taliban fighters. Nine members of his unit testified against him, saying the men were innocent.
Gallagher, a 15-year SEAL whose case garnered national attention, was found not guilty of murdering an ISIS fighter in Iraq in 2017 but was convicted in July of a lesser charge of posing for a photo with the dead ISIS prisoner's corpse.
His punishment included a reduction in rank from chief petty officer to 1st class petty officer, which would have cost him about $US200,000 ($AU293,296) in retirement funds. His family and defense team were fighting to have his rank restored.
"There are no words to adequately express how grateful my family and I are to our president, Donald J. Trump, for his intervention and decision," Eddie Gallagher said in a public statement Friday night. "We would also like to thank the American people for their unwavering support during this very difficult time for my family and I -- we can never thank you enough."
"I truly believe that we are blessed as a nation to have a commander in chief that stands up for our war fighters, and cares about how they and their families are treated," he said.
Bloomberg also said:
President Donald Trump on Friday granted clemency to two Army officers, one of whom is in prison after being convicted in the killing of two men in Afghanistan.
Trump signed an order that gave a full pardon to Lieutenant Clint Lorance, who had ordered soldiers under his command to open fire on three men who were moving toward them on a motorcycle “with unusual speed,” according to a White House statement.
The president also pardoned Major Mathew Golsteyn, a Green Beret who has been charged with an unlawful killing in Afghanistan and was facing a court martial.
According to the White House statement, Golsteyn had shot a man suspected of making a bomb that had killed two Marines “because he was certain that the terrorist’s bombmaking activities would continue to threaten American troops and their Afghan partners, including Afghan civilians who had helped identify him.”
Trump also ordered the promotion of Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who had been acquitted of killing a prisoner in Afghanistan but was found guilty on another charge because he posed next to the prisoner’s corpse. He was selected for promotion before the prosecution.