- The Washington Times - Monday, November 4, 2019

President Trump is reportedly poised to intervene in the case of a Navy SEAL who was accused of war crimes and later convicted of a single count of posing with the body of a dead Islamic State fighter, reversing a demotion order just approved by top Navy officials.

In a case Mr. Trump has closely followed on his Twitter feed, Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher was reduced in rank from chief to first class petty officer after his conviction. The president is considering restoring him to his prior rank, according to Fox News contributor and Army veteran Pete Hegseth.

A reduction in rank from E-7 to E-6 for Mr. Gallagher would have meant the loss of about $200,000 in retirement benefits. Although a military tribunal cleared him of the most serious charges in July, including murder and obstruction of justice, Mr. Gallagher was found guilty of posing with the body of the suspected Islamic State member.

He ultimately spent nine months in prison, including time in solitary confinement.

The messy trial was marked by charges of misconduct by military prosecutors and agents with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service or NCIS. On Monday, Mr. Hegseth said Mr. Trump told him he plans to reverse the Navy’s decision that upheld Mr. Gallagher’s sentence, possibly in advance of Veterans Day on November 11.



Other SEALS who were with Mr. Gallagher at the time also posed with the militant’s body, but he was the only one to be charged for it. Mr. Gallagher’s wife said she was grateful for how Mr. Trump has taken up her husband’s cause.

“He is the only one amid layers of the bureaucratic brass who has done right by our family,” Andrea Gallagher told Fox News. “Each layer of the Navy leadership has failed epically and the president has had to pick up the pieces.”

Mr. Trump also is expected to order the Navy not to take away Mr. Gallagher’s coveted SEAL trident insignia.

“My husband is a hero among the SEAL teams but he’s also an amazing husband and father,” Mrs. Gallagher said.

Separately, lawyers says the president also is considering directing the Army to dismiss charges against two officers accused of war crimes — Maj. Matthew Golsteyn and former 1st Lt. Clint Lorance.

Mr. Lorance is serving a 20-year prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth after he was convicted of ordering his platoon to open fire at three men on a motorcycle in Afghanistan in 2012.

Maj. Golsteyn is accused of killing an unarmed Afghan man 10 years ago whom he believed was a Taliban bomb maker. A former Green Beret, Maj. Golsteyn pleaded not guilty and currently remains on active duty. His military trial is set to begin next month.

Lawyers for the two men expressed hope this week President Trump would personally intervene on their appeals in the coming days.

Phillip Stackhouse, Maj. Golsteyn’s attorney, told the Army Times on Monday that it is time for his client to “regain his life.”

“Major Golsteyn has been under the cloud of these allegations for almost 10 years — the impact has been destructive to him, his family, and the Special Forces community,” the lawyer said. “It’s time to close this down and allow him to regain his life.”

Mr. Hegseth said Monday he had talked to Mr. Trump personally about his thinking on all three cases.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide