Trump says he may wait until after military trials to pardon alleged war criminals

Abbie Bennett
May 24, 2019 - 1:27 pm

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

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U.S. officials told The New York Times that the Trump Administration asked for paperwork needed to pardon American service members around Memorial Day. 

But on Friday as President Donald Trump was leaving for a trip to Japan he seemed to walk back that timeline. 

"We're looking at a lot of different pardons for a lot of different people," Trump said, according to a CNN video. "Some of these soldiers are people that have fought hard, long, you know, we teach them how to be great fighters and then when they fight sometimes they get really treated very unfairly. So we're going to take a look at it.  I haven't done anything yet. I haven't made any decisions. There's two or three of them right now; it's a little bit controversial."

Trump said he may wait on pardons until trials are complete.

"It's very possible that I'll let the trials go on and I'll make my decision after the trial," Trump said. 

Earlier this month, Trump pardoned a former soldier convicted in the 2009 killing of an Iraqi prisoner. 

The full pardon went to former Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, convicted of murder in a combat zone after killing a suspected al-Qaida terrorist in Iraq. He was paroled in 2014 and had been scheduled to remain on parole until 2024, the Associated Press reported. 

A military court sentenced Behenna to 25 years in prison, but his sentence was reduced to 15 years and parole. 

The New York Times reported that Trump is considering pardoning Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, a decorated Navy SEAL charged with premeditated murder in connection with the fatal stabbing of a teenage prisoner in his care in Iraq in 2017; former Green Beret Matthew Golsteyn found guilty of murder after killing an alleged Taliban bomb maker in Afghanistan in 2010; Nicholas Slatte, a former Blackwater security contractor found guilty of a 2007 shooting of dozens of unarmed Iraqis; and a group of Marine snipers, including Staff Sgt. Joseph Chamblin, who pleaded guilty in 2012 to urinating on a dead enemy combatant in Afghanistan. 

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