President Donald Trump is backing down from his defense of pardoning three military men.
The president pardoned 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Mathew Golsteyn who were accused or convicted of war crimes. He also ordered Special Warfare Operator First Class Eddie Gallagher’s rank to be restored.
Though Trump’s actions drew words of appreciation from those pardoned, it’s also stirred up controversy and sparked criticism, especially from 2020 Democratic primary contenders, as IJR previously reported.
Since the pardons, Richard Spencer was pushed out of his position as the Navy secretary after Defense Secretary Mark Esper learned that Spencer tried to make a deal with the White House to allow Gallagher to keep his Trident pin and rank if the White House wouldn’t intervene in the case to remove Gallagher from the SEALs.
Esper said after Spencer was out of the position that the side deal was “contrary to what we had agreed to and contrary to Secretary Spencer’s public position.”
During Tuesday night’s campaign rally in Sunrise, Florida, Trump declared, “Just this week I stuck up for three great warriors against the deep state. You know what I’m talking about. And so many people said, ‘Sir, I don’t think you should do that.'”
Speaking about Lorance’s case, Trump said:
“One young man was in jail for seven years. He had 16 more years to go. And I want to tell you, when you look at what they did to that man, you would have been very proud at what we ended up doing. He came out, he hugged his parents. It was a beautiful thing. … We gave him a pardon.”
Trump added, “We are going to take care of our warriors. I will always stick up for our great fighters.”
See Trump’s comments below:
"We're going to take care of our warriors. And I will always stick up for our great fighters." – President Trump in Sunrise, Florida— Kambree Kawahine Koa (@KamVTV) November 27, 2019
As IJR previously reported, after a report by The Daily Beast suggested that Trump may want the three accused war criminals to join him at 2020 campaign events, a few of them expressed their support for the idea and Trump.
“If asked, of course, Eddie would endorse the president,” Gallagher’s lawyer Tim Parlatore told the Washington Examiner. “There can be no stronger testimonial for an elected official than one of their constituents whose life has been helped significantly by that elected official.”