House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) on Sunday offered support for President Trump’s pardons of two U.S. service members in cases involving allegations of war crimes.
“Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace asked the lawmaker about the president clearing three men accused or convicted of war crimes, adding that “senior Pentagon officials advised the president against” the decision because they believed it would “undermine the military justice system.”
“Clearly the president is the commander in chief. He’s well within his rights. Do you have any problem with this decision to clear these three men?” Wallace asked.
“No,” Scalise responded.
“I’ve heard from our men and women in uniform for years that they felt that they were sidelined because they needed a team of attorneys before they could return fire in the battlefield,” Scalise said. “I think our troops’ morale is much higher — troops that I’ve heard from — because this has been a concern.”
Trump granted two pardons Friday for Army Maj. Mathew Golsteyn and Army Lt. Clint Lorance.
He also signed an order restoring the rank of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher to that which he held before he was tried and found not guilty of nearly all charges in the death of an ISIS prisoner in Iraq.
Golsteyn, a former Green Beret, was charged with murder in the death of an Afghan man during deployment in the war-torn country in 2010. Golsteyn pleaded not guilty in the case.Lorance was found guilty in 2013 of murder in the second degree for ordering his soldiers to fire on three unarmed Afghan men on a motorcycle. He has served six years of the 19-year prison sentence he received.
“I think there have been a lot of concerns expressed over the years that many of our men and women in uniform that were out battling terrorists in the battlefield were being put in a position where they had to think about whether or not if they returned fire, if they defended themselves,” Scalise said.
“Some of these people mentioned that were killed were terrorists, bomb-making terrorists, and yet our men and women — men in uniform in this case — were in jail for 25-plus years for killing a terrorist in the battlefield,” he added.