Trump has backed down on his plan to pardon war criminals — for now.
Trump's idea to pardon alleged murderers who may be war criminals has been shelved for now, according to a Wednesday report from the Daily Beast. Two sources told Daily Beast that Trump was surprised by the strong pushback from veterans groups.
In the lead-up to Memorial Day, Trump asked for information about several alleged and convicted war criminals, planning to issue pardons on a day meant to remember members of the military.
One of the men, Eddie Gallagher, is accused of using his sniper rifle to kill an unarmed civilian girl, as well as firing a machine gun indiscriminately into civilian areas. Army Major Mathew Golsteyn is accused of killing a prisoner and then burning the body with the help of others.
The idea of pardoning these men sparked immediate and lasting outrage among veterans.
"With the exception of actually pissing on graves at Arlington, pardoning war criminals on Memorial Day is as insulting to America's war dead as you could possibly get," Brandon Friedman, a writer and entrepreneur who won two bronze stars for his service in Iraq and Afghanistan, said in mid-May.
The idea of pardoning war criminals was also slammed for the message it would send to America's enemies.
"We who've served know that killing civilian children, women & seniors makes it harder to secure the peace & is a great recruiting tool for terrorists," Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), a former JAG officer, said.
"America's military prides itself on operating within the law," David Desroches, a former senior Pentagon official, told the Daily Beast. "If you have guys committing war crimes, and getting away with it, that really damages our effort tactically. No one is going to cooperate with us."
VoteVets, a group dedicated to supporting and electing veterans, called Trump's idea "a win for ISIS and our enemies."
Trump monitored the reaction on cable news, according to the Daily Beast, and did not expect the fierce opposition to his plan. After seeing the idea widely slammed by so many people associated with the military and veterans, Trump decided to take no action over Memorial Day weekend, but he has not abandoned the idea completely.
Trump famously dodged the draft for the Vietnam War with a series of deferments, including one for a medical condition known as "bone spurs," which some allege was made up. In a Tuesday interview, Trump compared being president to serving in Vietnam, saying his actions now make up for dodging the draft.
Trump has a long history of insulting members of the military and veterans. Even floating the idea of pardoning alleged war criminals is an insult to the women and men who serve America with honor.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.