General calls McCain's Bergdahl comments 'inappropriate'

General calls McCain's Bergdahl comments 'inappropriate'
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A general overseeing the court-martial against Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl said Wednesday he found Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain says late husband would be 'very disappointed' with politics today What would John McCain do? Sunday shows preview: Trump ratchets up trade war with China MORE’s (R-Ariz.) comments about the case inappropriate and that they didn’t affect his decision-making.

"Making public statements about the disposition of a very high-profile case by anyone is inappropriate,” Gen. Robert Abrams testified in pretrial hearing at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, according to The Associated Press.

Abrams is what’s known as the convening authority, meaning he made the decision to send the case to general court-martial.

When asked whether McCain influenced his decision, Abrams replied, "Absolutely not,” according to the AP.

At issue are comments McCain made in October in an interview with the Boston Herald. McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he would hold a hearing if Bergdahl avoids punishment for walking off his base in 2009.

The comments came after a hearing officer recommended against prison for Bergdahl and said the case should be heard by a misdemeanor-level tribunal. In December, Abrams rejected the hearing officer’s recommendation and sent Bergdahl's case to a general court-martial.

Bergdahl walked off his post in Afghanistan in June 2009 and was captured by the Taliban. He was held until a May 2014 prisoner swap.

Bergdahl is set to face a court-martial in February on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. The latter charge carries the potential sentence of life in prison.

Bergdahl’s defense lawyers are hoping to use McCain’s comments to get the case tossed out or at least have Bergdahl face no punishment if he’s convicted. The lawyers argue McCain’s comments can be seen as threats to the careers of those overseeing the case since his committee confirms military nominations.

When asked by the judge whether he feared retribution from McCain, Abrams said Wednesday, "I have no reservations, no fears, no concerns," according to The Fayetteville Observer.

According to the AP, Abrams became testy when pressed by the defense lawyers on why he didn’t fear McCain.

“I have served my country for 34 years. I am at the highest rank I am ever going to attain," Abrams said, according to the AP. "I take that duty and responsibility very, very seriously."

"Up to this point no one — and I mean no one — has tried to influence me in any way,” he added.

Prosecutors have argued that it would be unprecedented to toss out a case because of a lawmaker’s comments. 

The judge in the case, Army Col. Jeffery Nance, has said he would make a decision on the so-called McCain motion “as soon as possible.”