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Joni Ernst warns Trump on war-crime pardons

May 26, 2019

Sen. Joni Ernst on Sunday said President Trump should be “very careful” in weighing pardons to soldiers accused or found guilty of war crimes.

The Republican senator’s comments came amid reports that Mr. Trump is considering a Memorial Day pardon for Edward Gallagher, a former Navy SEAL, and/or other soldiers.

Ms. Ernst, a combat veteran, said she didn’t know the particulars about Mr. Gallagher’s case.

“We need our young men and women in uniform to understand that we operate under a code of ethics,” the Iowa Republican said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I would just advise the president to be very careful scrutinize, of course, each case individually and if it’s warranted, grant a pardon. If it is not, and someone has committed a war crime, then a sentence should be served.”

Mr. Gallagher, whose war crimes trial is scheduled to start on May 28, was turned in by members of his team for allegedly killing a suspected Al Qaeda prisoner. He claims it was self-defense after the prisoner grabbed his gun.

Mr. Trump said on Friday he’s looking at a lot of different pardons for a lot of different people.

“Some of these soldiers are people that have fought hard, long we teach them how to be great fighters, and then when they fight sometimes they get treated really unfairly,” he said. “It’s very possible I’ll let the trials go on and I’ll make my decision after the trial.”

Tom Howell Jr. contributed to this report.

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