After pardoning Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, Donald Trump again overruled his military leadership to restore him to his elite position.
Last week, Donald Trump pardoned Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, reportedly against the wishes of top military leaders. Gallagher, a Navy SEAL, had been accused of war crimes in Iraq. A military court acquitted him of murder in July, but convicted of posing for photos with a dead teen's body. Trump pardoned two other service members at the same time, circumventing the military justice system.
Military officials warned these moves could hurt military morale and send a signal that troops need not follow commands and rules. Retired Adm. John Kirby told CNN earlier this month that the pardons could have an "impact on military leaders and their ability to enact measures of good order and discipline," and also undermine the trust of foreign countries where U.S. troops serve. "One of the reasons American troops are as welcome in as many countries as they are," the former Pentagon and State Department spokesperson added, "is because they know the American military administers itself according to a very strict code of justice and we have a very good record of holding those troops accountable."
But after Trump pardoned Gallagher, the Navy decided it would still move to strip him of his Trident pin, symbolizing his membership in the elite SEAL forces. According to the New York Times, naval officials sought — and believed they had repeatedly received — official clearance from the Trump White House to make the move.
But after Gallagher's lawyer made his case directly to Trump via a Fox News appearance — framing the demotion as a poke "right in the president's eye" — Trump announced that he would overrule military leadership and restore Gallagher's rank. As is often the case with Trump's impulsive decisions, he made the announcement Thursday morning by tweet.
"The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher's Trident Pin. This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!"
This latest move to undermine the military comes just days after Trump admitted in a court settlement to misusing charitable funds for political and personal purposes, including improperly distributing funds raised for veterans groups in ways designed to benefit his 2016 campaign.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.