The White House is reportedly drafting documents to pardon a number of convicted or alleged war criminals, including Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, but Congressman and former SEAL Dan Crenshaw is speaking out against such a move. “These cases should be decided by the courts, where the entirety of the evidence can be viewed. Only after that should a pardon be considered,” Crenshaw, a Texas Republican, told National Review.
Gallagher’s court-martial is scheduled to begin next week. He stands accused of murdering a detainee in Mosul, Iraq, during a combat deployment. The case has been contentious, with the defense attempting to court public passions while the defense has leaked legal documents to the media.
The New York Times reports President Trump is considering pardoning Gallagher before his trial has even begun. Doing so would ensure the facts of his case are never established in a court of law. “Fox & Friends” host Pete Hegseth has been lobbying President Trump for a pardon, and such a move would play very well to the president’s base. However, it would likely undermine the military justice system and the discipline of soldiers who are expected to represent their country in a professional manner.
Corporations realize the best way to reach President Trump is to take out advertising on “Fox and Friends,” targeting Washington D.C. Likewise, Gallagher’s defenders have taken to the same program to make a direct appeal to the president. This appears to have succeeded in torpedoing the court-martial process.
President Trump previously pardoned former 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, although his murder case is different as he had already been convicted. Behenna maintained his innocence, yet served his debt to society, was paroled out of prison, and years later received a presidential pardon. Congressman Crenshaw has now spoken out against a potential pardon, but how this case plays out in a court of law, as well as a court of public passion, remains to be seen.