President Donald Trump has intervened in three high-profile murder cases involving U.S. service members, dismissing charges against a Green Beret accused of killing an Afghan man, pardoning a former Army officer serving 19 years for ordering soldiers to fire on unarmed Afghan men, and promoting a Navy SEAL who was convicted of posing with a dead body but acquitted of more serious charges.
“The President, as Commander-in-Chief, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted,” said Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham in a statement. “These actions are in keeping with this long history. As the President has stated, ‘when our soldiers have to fight for our country, I want to give them the confidence to fight.'”
Army Green Beret Maj. Matt Golsteyn, accused of killing an Afghan man, was deployed to southern Afghanistan at the time of the man’s death in 2010 and returned to the U.S. without any charges. He was charged after he admitted to the killing during a polygraph for a job at the CIA. Golsteyn said he killed the man, an alleged Taliban bombmaker, in an ambush.
“Our family is profoundly grateful for the president’s action,” said Golsteyn in a statement. “We have lived in constant fear of this runaway prosecution. Thanks to President Trump, we now have a chance to rebuild our family and lives. With time, I hope to regain my immense pride in having served in our military. In the meantime, we are so thankful for the support of family members, friends and supporters from around the nation, and our legal team.”
In an interview with NBC News shortly after the announcement, Golsteyn said Trump had called him earlier Friday to inform him about the action.
“He said it was an honor to be able to give use our lives back,” Golsteyn said.
“We told him thank you,” Golsteyn added. “I don’t know what you can say to someone who is literally giving you your life back. Thank you is insufficient to say to someone who literally is giving you your life back.”
Trump also pardoned former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, who is serving a 19-year murder sentence at Leavenworth federal penitentiary.
Lorance was convicted of ordering an enlisted soldier to open fire on a group of unarmed Afghans in 2012.
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SOURCE: NBC News – Courtney Kube and Carol E. Lee