- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 22, 2017

Potential jurors for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s court-martial in October may be forced to tell lawyers if they voted for President Trump.

Comments made by Mr. Trump during his 2016 Republican campaign for the White House have influenced one of the most high-profile, court-martial cases in U.S. Army history. Lawyers for Sgt. Bergdahl, the soldier who left his post in Afghanistan in June 2009, have a private 41-question survey for a Fort Bragg judge to consider. One of 17 questions objected to by prosecutors involves support for Mr. Trump’s campaign.

“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,” Eugene Fidell, Sgt. Bergdahl’s lead attorney, said Wednesday during a pretrial hearing, Stars and Stripes reported.

The judge overseeing the government’s case, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance, acknowledged that Mr. Trump’s campaign rhetoric may be “problematic,” but will hold off on a decision regarding the question until later this week.

Army Maj. Justin C. Oshana, one of the prosecutors, countered that asking potential jurors if they were familiar with Mr. Trump’s comments (60 negative remarks over a three-month period) would suffice.

“A person not aware of any of the comments made by Mr. Trump, but who voted for him, is not a prejudice issue,” the officer said, the newspaper reported.

Sgt. Bergdahl is charged with “misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit or place” and “desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty.” He has not entered a plea on the charges and is scheduled to appear for another pretrial hearing on July 27.

The soldier, currently stationed at active duty at Joint Base San Antonio in Texas, has been assigned clerical work.

Lawyers for Sgt. Bergdahl seek a dismissal of the misbehavior charge, which may result in a life-in-prison sentence, Stars and Stripes reported.

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