Pentagon chief confident in military justice system after Trump pardons

Pentagon chief confident in military justice system after Trump pardons
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Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Government funding bill butts up against deadline | Pentagon reports eighth military COVID-19 death | Trump, Pentagon collide over anti-diversity training push Trump, Pentagon collide over anti-diversity training push Overnight Defense: Stopgap spending measure awaits Senate vote | Trump nominates former Nunes aide for intelligence community watchdog | Trump extends ban on racial discrimination training to contractors, military MORE said he is still confident in the military justice system after President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Trump-Biden debate clash The Memo: Debate or debacle? Democrats rip Trump for not condemning white supremacists, Proud Boys at debate MORE pardoned two service members who had been charged with war crimes, Reuters reported Sunday. 

The Pentagon chief made his first comments since the president’s pardons while visiting Bangkok. When asked how he would restore confidence in the U.S. military justice system in other countries, he answered: “We have a very effective military justice system,” according to Reuters.

“I have great faith in the military justice system,” Esper added.


The Defense secretary said military members “are trained from day one about the laws of armed conflict and how to conduct themselves during wartime," according to the news wire.

“If they don’t, then the United States military will take action in accordance (with the Uniform Code of Military Justice) to make sure that they are held accountable,” he said.

Trump signed executive grants of clemency Thursday for Army Maj. Mathew Golsteyn and Army Lt. Clint Lorance, receiving backlash from critics who said it sent a message that war crimes against other countries were forgivable.  

Golsteyn was charged with the murder of an Afghan man while in Afghanistan. Lorance served six years out of a 19-year prison sentence for ordering his men to shoot at three unarmed Afghan men on a motorcycle. 

The president also restored the rank of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher after he was acquitted of most charges in the death of an ISIS prisoner in Iraq, except for illegally posing with the corpse. This charge forced him to be demoted, according to Reuters.