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Trump to mull ‘lots of different pardons’ for accused soldiers

May 24, 2019

President Trump said Friday his administration is looking at “a lot of different pardons” amid reports he is considering a Memorial Day reprieve for soldiers accused of war crimes.

“We’re looking at a lot of different pardons for a lot of different people,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he departed the White House for a Japan trip. “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.

“So we’re going to take a look at it. I haven’t done anything yet,” Mr. Trump said. “I haven’t made any decisions, there’s two or three of them right now. It’s a little bit controversial.”

The debate largely centers on Edward Gallagher, a former Navy SEAL whose war crimes trial is set to start May 28.

The New York Times reported Mr. Trump may pardon him the day prior as a gesture on Memorial Day.

The report said the president was “eager” to pardon Mr. Gallagher and other members of the military who were facing other charges or currently convicted.

Seven members of Mr. Gallagher’s SEAL team turned him in for allegedly killing a suspected al Qaeda prisoner. He admits to the altercation but claims it was in self-defense after the prisoner grabbed his gun.

Mr. Trump said he may wait and see what happens in the courts.

“It’s very possible I’ll let the trials go on and I’ll make my decision after the trial,” he said.

Democratic 2020 contender Pete Buttigieg said Thursday it is “disgusting” that Mr. Trump is considering pardons for those accused or convicted of war crimes.

“If the president blows a hole in that, he is blowing a hole in the military, and he is putting troops’ lives at risk,” Mr. Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, told a Washington Post Live event.

Mr. Buttigieg served in Afghanistan as a Navy Reserve intelligence officer.

Bailey Vogt contributed to this story.

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