When Barack Obama took his silly victory lap in his 2014 Rose Garden announcement that he had traded five senior Taliban leaders for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, he was reminded almost immediately of the longstanding proposition that we don’t negotiate with terrorists here in the U.S. The mistake was amplified in the days and weeks to follow by the revelation that Bergdahl had deserted his unit in Afghanistan to go in search of the Taliban to enlist — which led to the decision by the Army in March 2015 to charge him with desertion.
Now as Obama’s final days wind down, Bergdahl, in a last-ditch effort to save his own worthless hide, has asked Obama to issue him a presidential pardon.
Following the outcome of the presidential election, Bergdahl’s lawyers submitted a clemency application to the Obama administration, The New York Times reports.
Officials from the White House and Pentagon confirmed receipt of the application Saturday.
President-elect Donald Trump has referred to Bergdahl as a “no-good traitor who should have been executed.”
For Trump, it’s patently obvious that Bergdahl would have been executed 30 years ago for abandoning his post in 2009 and getting himself captured by the Taliban, only to be later swapped in a secret exchange for five Taliban prisoners formerly held at Guantanamo Bay. His very capture prompted an incredibly dangerous search.
Trump’s numerous comments about Bergdahl during the election cycle led to vigorous objection from Eugene R. Fidell, the lead lawyer for Bergdahl, who has complained that Trump, as well as GOP Sen. John McCain, may have already poisoned any chance the accused deserter has of a fair trial at Fort Bragg.
“I have grave concerns as to whether Sergeant Bergdahl can receive a fair trial given the beating he has taken over many months from Mr. Trump, who will be commander in chief, as well as Senator McCain’s call for a hearing in case Sergeant Bergdahl is not punished,” Fidell said, according to The New York Times. “It is really most unfair.”
If Obama grants him a pardon, Bergdahl could avoid charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Otherwise, his trial could result in a sentence of life in prison.
But if Obama neglects to offer a pardon, Bergdahl’s legal team has another trick up its sleeve and will file a motion in the case arguing that Trump’s comments during the election violated Bergdahl’s due process rights.
The defense team has been cataloging every single instance where Trump has commented on the Bergdahl case. This file is known as the “Trump Defamation Log” and includes forty examples, ending in August.
This report, by Jonah Bennett, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.