Will pardoned war criminals campaign for President Trump in 2020?

Jack Murphy
November 26, 2019 - 9:53 am
President Trump

Chip Somodevilla / Staff


This month President Trump intervened in three war crimes cases, pardoning two soldiers and restoring the rank of a Navy SEAL before again intervening to allow him to keep his trident. Lt. Clint Lorance was convicted of ordering one of his men to open fire and kill civilians in Afghanistan. Chief Eddie Gallagher was aquitted of charges that he shot civilians and murdered a teenager in Iraq, but was convicted of one charge of taking a trophy picture with a dead body. Cpt. Mathew Golsteyn allegedly admitted while taking a polygraph test for the CIA to executing a suspected bomb maker in Afghanistan and burning the body; he was pardoned prior to his court martial which would have begun in December.

According to two sources interviewed by The Daily Beast, President Trump would like the convicted or alleged war criminals that he pardoned to come with him on the campaign trail for his 2020 re-election bid. The Daily Beast reports that President Trump has discussed bringing Lorance, Gallagher, or Golsteyn up on stage during his upcoming rallies or even have them appear at the Republican National Convention where he will be renominated as the Republican candidate.

Whether these three men are war criminals or not would have been established during the criminal proceedings during a court martial. Whether or not they are war heroes is a highly emotional subject for military members, veterans, and the public at large. "We train our boys to be killing machines and then we prosecute them when they kill," President Trump tweeted back in October.

Navy SEALs, Green Berets, and infantrymen do receive extensive training on how to kill the enemy, however, they are also trained to discriminate between civilian and hostile targets as well as briefed on the rules of engagement and the laws of land warfare. Contrary to popular beliefs propagated by movies and video games, American troops are not trained to be mindless killing machines. Even for frontline combat troops, the act of killing is one small aspect of running combat operations to fight and win in ground combat.

Want to get more connected to the stories and resources Connecting Vets has to offer? Click here to sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Reach Jack Murphy: jack@connectingvets.com or @JackMurphyRGR.