President Trump is considering issuing pardons on or around Memorial Day for several servicemen accused or convicted of war crimes, the New York Times reported over the weekend. “One request is for Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher of the Navy SEALs, who is scheduled to stand trial in the coming weeks on charges of shooting unarmed civilians and killing an enemy captive with a knife while deployed in Iraq,” according to the Times.
Republican congressman Dan Crenshaw of Texas is weighing in on the story, telling National Review in a written statement: “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 served as a Navy SEAL from 2006 to 2016, during which time he was awarded two Bronze Stars (one with valor), the Purple Heart (an IED took his eye in Afghanistan), and the Navy Commendation Medal with Valor.
Gallagher’s trial is scheduled to begin on May 28, the day after Memorial Day, but the Times reported that a senior military official “said while assembling pardon files typically takes months, the Justice Department stressed that all files would have to be complete before Memorial Day weekend, because the President planned to pardon the men then.”
Crenshaw is the latest of several veterans in Congress to comment on the case. GOP congressman Duncan Hunter of California, a Marine combat veteran of the second Iraq war, has been leading the charge for a pardon for Gallagher.“I don’t trust the Navy to give him a fair trial, but I think with all of the focus on this case that he stands more of a chance of getting a fair trial now,” Hunter recently told the Associated Press. Hunter “is himself facing federal corruption charges involving the personal use of campaign money. The congressman and his wife pleaded not guilty last year to a 60-count indictment,” the AP noted.
Democratic congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, a Marine combat veteran of the second Iraq war who is now waging a longshot campaign for president, also addressed the story at a campaign event. Moulton said that one of the things he was most proud of about his service in Iraq as a Marine was that “through all the tragedies of that war, for all the hard days that we had, we never lost our values. And I think it is an insult to the 99.9 percent of veterans who could say the same, when the president pardons war criminals . . . He doesn’t get that because he never had to uphold American values when he was being shot at. But a lot of veterans have.”