Overnight Defense: Navy SEAL found not guilty of murder in war crimes case | Tanks arrive in DC for Trump Fourth of July event | Dem wants Trump to pay for any infrastructure damage

Overnight Defense: Navy SEAL found not guilty of murder in war crimes case | Tanks arrive in DC for Trump Fourth of July event | Dem wants Trump to pay for any infrastructure damage
© Getty

Happy Tuesday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Ellen Mitchell, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.

 

THE TOPLINE: Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher was found not guilty of murder and attempted murder in a military court Tuesday following a trial centering around the killing of an ISIS militant, according to multiple reports.

Gallagher, 40, was accused of stabbing to death an injured teenage ISIS fighter and shooting at civilians in Iraq during a 2017 deployment. The verdict, which comes one day after closing arguments, was reached by five Marines and two sailors.

ADVERTISEMENT

The results: While he was found not guilty on the most serious charges, Gallagher was found guilty on the single charge of posing with the corpse of the ISIS fighter, according to multiple reports.

A witness testifying during the trial last month roiled the case when he admitted that he killed the teenage militant, one of the crimes Gallagher was on trial for in California.

However, seven Navy SEALs testified during the trial that Gallagher had abruptly stabbed the fighter after treating him for injuries sustained in an airstrike.

What the jury decided: The jury was tasked with determining if the fighter died from the stab wounds or from injuries already sustained. Many of the Navy SEALs who testified were granted immunity to appear before the court.

An Iraqi general told the court that Gallagher did not stab the teenager and Marine Staff Sgt. Giorgio Kirylo said he did not see any stab wounds on the fighter, according to NBC News.

In closing arguments, the prosecution presented pictures of Gallagher holding the teen's head by his hair and texts from Gallagher saying, "I've got a cool story for you when I get back. I've got my knife skills on" and "Good story behind this. Got him with my hunting knife."

"The government's evidence in this case is Chief Gallagher's words, Chief Gallagher's pictures, Chief Gallagher's SEALs," Navy Cmdr. Jeff Pietrzyk, one of the prosecutors, said.

The defense team said there was no body or evidence to be used against Gallagher and dismissed the texts as dark humor in combat.

Gallagher was released from custody in May after the judge in the case said prosecutors obstructed his right to counsel. 

Reports surfaced prior to Tuesday's ruling that President TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE was considering a pardon for him.

 

TANKS ROLL IN DC AHEAD OF TRUMP'S JULY 4TH EVENT: U.S. military tanks arrived in Washington, D.C., via train on Tuesday ahead of their use in President Trump's July 4 "Salute to America" event on the National Mall.

NBC News captured photos and video of two Bradley and two Abrams tanks arriving in Southeast D.C. The news outlet also spotted support vehicles, including an M88 used to help recover armored equipment.

NBC's report came after an Associated Press photographer spotted two M1A1 Abrams tanks and four military vehicles on a freight train late Monday.

Trump confirmed on Monday afternoon that there will be tanks stationed on the National Mall on the Fourth of July.

"We're going to have some tanks stationed outside," Trump said during a bill signing in the Oval Office. "You've got to be pretty careful with the tanks because the roads have a tendency not to like to carry heavy tanks. So we have to put them in certain areas."

The details: Trump will deliver remarks from the Lincoln Memorial as part of the Independence Day event, and he has played an active role in its planning. The event will also include flyovers by military aircraft.

The criticisms: Some Democrats have raised concerns about Trump politicizing the Fourth of July and have worried that the involvement of the military could damage local infrastructure and give the appearance of a show of force similar to authoritarian regimes.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who represents a Northern Virginia district, called on Trump to personally reimburse taxpayers for any damage done to local infrastructure during Salute to America.

"President Trump's attempts to make the annual Independence Day celebration in the National Capital Region about himself are appalling," Beyer said in a statement on Tuesday. "Even worse, the authoritarian-style trappings he demands, including tanks, will come at a great cost to taxpayers, and threaten significant harm to local roads and bridges."

The helicopters: The July Fourth celebration will reportedly feature the first official use of a new "Marine One" helicopter purchased by the Defense Department.

McClatchy reported Tuesday that the new model, dubbed the VH-92, will fly over the capital city in the evening as part of an Independence Day celebration that will also involve several tanks.

The Navy told Popular Mechanics last month that the new design makes the helicopter one of the most technologically advanced aircraft.

Thursday will not be the first time the helicopter has flown above D.C. It has reportedly embarked on several test flights around the District over the past few months, but the July Fourth celebration will mark the aircraft's first official use.

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: Graham: 'I will not invest a dime' in Mideast peace plan that results in one state

-- The Hill: Poll: Voters back Trump's decision not to strike Iran

-- The Hill: House bill targets use of Pentagon networks for child pornography

-- The Hill: New Hampshire Air National Guard Base issues all clear after reports of possible shots heard

-- The Hill: Menendez demands investigation into alleged UAE arms transfers

-- The Hill: France calls on Iran to reverse excess uranium enrichment