Using his executive authority, President Donald Trump has decided to pardon former 1st Lt. Michael Behenna over the killing of an al-Qaeda terrorist in 2008.
Although Behenna had been ordered to capture the terrorist, Ali Mansu, and bring him back to face Iraqi justice, which is notoriously corrupt, he opted to take the man to a secluded spot and kill him. During his trial, Behenna claimed the captured terrorist tried to break free and attack him. Army investigators, however, found these claims to be unsubstantiated.
Mansu was responsible for an improvised explosive device that killed two soldiers from Behenna’s platoon. In 2009, a general court-martial convicted Behenna and sentenced him to 25 years in prison for unpremeditated murder in a combat zone, according to Fox News. The Army Clemency and Parole Board, however, reduced the sentence to 15 years and gave him parole at the earliest opportunity in 2014.
Before President Trump’s decision to pardon the former Army officer, a great number of celebrities, politicians, former military leaders, and ordinary people signed a petition calling for the pardoning of Behenna. The petition included a former Pentagon inspector general alongside 37 generals and admirals, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
“In light of these facts, Mr. Behenna is entirely deserving of this Grant of Executive Clemency,” said Sanders.
President Trump’s decision comes in the wake of an unexpected increase in his approval ratings. According to a poll conducted by Gallup, the president is witnessing record high approval rates, which hover around 45%.
“The latest rating,” said the polling company, “extends the upper limits of President Donald Trump’s narrow approval rating range by one percentage point, from his previous range of 35% to 45%.”
The poll was conducted from April 17 to April 30 in the wake of the publication of the Mueller Report.
Gallup cited a number of reasons for President Trump’s increased popularity. “In addition to the initial interpretation of the Mueller report,” said the polling agency, “which Trump claimed vindicated him from charges that he had colluded with Russia, the economy has offered several reasons for Americans to look more favorably on Trump. These include a strong jobs report on April 5, news that U.S. gross domestic product increased by 3.2% in the first quarter, and U.S. stocks reaching new highs.”
Interestingly, the president’s approval rating among Democrats is also at its highest level at 12%. As far as Republican and Independent voters, his ratings are 91% and 37% respectively.