Attorneys for accused Army deserter, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl on Wednesday told a judge that they want to ask potential jurors in the court-martial case how they viewed President Trump and whether or not they voted for him.
According to Stars and Stripes reports released on Wednesday, Eugene Fidell, Bergdahl’s lead attorney said, “the principal issue has to do with ensuring we are able to identify people who have been nominated to be on the court-martial panel — the jury — who are not in a position to render an impartial judgment.”
He added, “key to that is the whole set of issues surrounding President Trump’s outrageous comments throughout the course of his successful campaign for the White House.”
Bergdahl walked off his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and was captured by the Taliban, who held him for almost five years before releasing him. He was charged in 2015 with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, the latter of which carries a potential life imprisonment sentence. Bergdahl has yet to enter a plea to the charges.
During the campaign, Trump called Bergdahl a “dirty, rotten traitor” and criticized former President Barack Obama’s decision to exchange five Guantanamo Bay detainees for the soldier’s freedom.
The judge in Bergdahl’s case, Army Col. Jeffery Nance, called Trump’s statements “disturbing” and potentially “problematic.” But, according to Stars and Stripes, Nance declined to dismiss the case over them, instead allowing defense attorneys to ask prospective jurors questions about potential influence the president’s comments might have on them.
Prosecutors argued that people’s politics are a personal matter and that Bergdahl’s lawyers stepped over the line. The trial will take place at Ft. Bragg, NC in the coming months. Bergdahl still hasn’t entered a plea, although he’s expected to plead not guilty.
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