Trump hosts accused war criminal at Mar-a-Lago

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Former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher was convicted this summer of posing for a photo with a dead teenager in Iraq.

Donald Trump hosted former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher at a party at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida over the weekend.

Gallagher was accused of war crimes previously and was convicted in July this year for posing with the corpse of an enemy combatant while serving.

The former SEAL and his wife posted an Instagram photo of themselves speaking to Trump and first lady Melania Trump at the event over the weekend.

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"Finally got to thank the President and his amazing wife by giving them a little gift from Eddie’s deployment to Mosul," they wrote.

Trump pardoned Gallagher in November, ignoring recommendations from military leaders, including then-Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer. Gallagher was convicted of posing for a photo with a dead teenager's body in Iraq. He was acquitted of several other charges, including allegedly shooting civilians and threatening to kill SEALs who reported him for his conduct.

Trump's decision came after several hosts on Fox News repeatedly pushed on-air for Gallagher's crime to go unpunished.

Trump has often turned to Fox News for advice on key issues, and several of the network's hosts, including conservatives Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, are some of his key unofficial advisers.

Gallagher had been slated for demotion after his conviction and the Navy planned to remove his Trident pin, which denotes his status as a SEAL. Instead, Trump vetoed the demotion and allowed Gallagher to keep his pin.

Trump forced Spencer to resign from his position after he objected to Trump's actions in defense of the disgraced former serviceman.

"I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took in the presence of my family, my flag and my faith to support and defend the Constitution of the United States," Spencer wrote in his resignation letter.

Spencer also noted that "good order" is necessary to protect the lives of sailors, marines, and civilians involved in military operations and that the pardon ran contrary to that need.

"The rule of law is what sets us apart from our adversaries," Spencer wrote.

Trump also appeared on stage earlier in the month at a Republican fundraiser alongside two other service members who have been accused of war crimes and were pardoned by him.

A previous version of this story identified Gallagher in the headline as a "convicted war criminal." The headline has since been updated to refer to Gallagher as an "accused war criminal" given ongoing debate over whether taking a photo with a corpse is a war crime

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.