Attorneys for U.S. Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl are pressing a military appeals court to reconsider his case, arguing that President Trump’s tweets improperly affected the proceedings.
Bergdahl pleaded guilty in 2017 to abandoning his post while serving in Afghanistan in 2009. After being held by a Taliban affiliate for five years, he was freed in a prisoner exchange and was subsequently sentenced to a rank reduction and dishonorable discharge, on top of a $10,000 fine.
Mr. Trump tweeted after the sentencing that the lack of prison time for Bergdahl was “a complete and total disgrace to our Country and our Military.”
Bergdahl’s attorney, Eugene Fidell, argued last week before the Army Court of Criminal Appeals that the soldier’s case should be reconsidered because of Mr. Trump’s comments online.
“The president has tainted everything,” Mr. Fidell told the three-judge panel at Fort Myer, Virginia, saying the case should be reheard or Bergdahl be granted clemency.
Government attorneys argued that Bergdahl’s sentence — including the lack of any jail time — proved that Mr. Trump’s words did not affect the outcome. They said Bergdahl’s original court-martial had acknowledged and considered the president’s remarks before reaching its verdict
“You can’t put Humpty-Dumpty back together again in terms of Sergeant Bergdahl. He is a known figure in the U.S. because the president disparaged him,” Mr. Fidell argued.
It is not clear when the appeals court will rule on the case.
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