Lawyers for former prisoner of war and Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl made good on their promise to call for his case to be dismissed based on President Trump’s campaign comments against him, filing a motion on Inauguration Day.
Trump’s comments compromise their client’s right to a fair trial, the lawyers argue, releasing a 28-minute video of times the new president has disparaged Bergdahl.
“President Trump has made it impossible for SGT Bergdahl to obtain a fair trial,” his lawyers wrote in the 57-page filing, complete with a screenshot of a Trump tweet about Bergdahl and photos of Trump pantomiming executions at this rallies. “President Trump transformed his rallies into a televised traveling lynch mob. Justice cannot be done and public confidence in military justice cannot be maintained under these circumstances.”
Bergdahl is set to face a court-martial in April on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy after walking away from his post in Afghanistan in 2009. He was captured by the Taliban and held until a 2014 prisoner swap. The latter charge carries the potential sentence of life in prison.
Bergdahl had sought a pardon from former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Memo: Biden, bruised by Afghanistan, faces a critical test in Ukraine Is the US capable of thinking strategically? Juan Williams: GOP infighting is a gift for Democrats MORE prior to his leaving office but was not among Obama’s final batch of pardons.
Over the course of the campaign, Trump referenced Bergdahl multiple times as he sought to make his case that the U.S. has become weak.
The motion lists 65 times that Trump called Bergdahl a traitor, said he should be executed or falsely claimed that troops had died while looking for Bergdahl.
For example, at a rally in October 2015, Trump said, "We're tired of Sgt. Bergdahl, who's a traitor, a no-good traitor, who should have been executed"
“Thirty years ago, he would have been shot,” he added.
At another rally later in November, Trump incorrectly said that “six young, great people were killed going after this bum.”
The comments continued throughout the campaign, with the last example in the filing dated Aug. 9, when the future president complained that the United States traded five prisoners for just Bergdahl as an example of a bad deal.
“They get five of the greatest killers they wanted for eight years. We get Bergdahl. I call it the five-for-one trade,” he said.
Now that Trump is commander in chief, Bergdahl’s lawyers wrote, the case needs to be dismissed to safeguard the credibility of the military justice system.
“There are times when an insult to the fair administration of justice is so sustained, palpable and recent, and comes from such a source, that the integrity of the military justice system is necessarily at stake and the strong medicine provided by the doctrine of apparent [unlawful command influence] is required,” they wrote. “This is such a case.”