Trump just overruled his top military officials in controversial war crimes pardons

Donald Trump Army West PointU.S. President Donald Trump makes a speech while presenting the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy to the U.S. Military Academy football team in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 1, 2018.REUTERS/Leah Millis

  • President Donald Trump on Friday evening absolved three US service members who were either convicted or were still facing trial of war crimes.
  • Trump signed an executive order to grant clemency to US Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Mathew Golsteyn.
  • Trump also restored the rank of Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was demoted after a military trial found him guilty of posing in a picture with the corpse of an Islamic State militant.
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President Donald Trump on Friday evening absolved three US service members who were either convicted or were still facing trial of war crimes.

Trump signed an executive order to grant clemency to US Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, who was convicted of ordering soldiers to engage three unarmed Afghan men on a motorcycle, killing two of them in July 2012. Lorance served six years of his 19-year sentence.

Trump also signed an executive order to grant clemency to US Army Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, whose trial has yet to begin. Golsteyn stands accused of killing an unarmed Afghan man in 2010, and later disposing the body in a trash pit.

US Navy Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was demoted after a military trial found him guilty of posing in a picture with the corpse of an Islamic State militant, had his rank reinstated to Chief Petty Officer.

Trump and the White House have been mulling over the decision for weeks, according to multiple news reports. On Thursday, The New York Times reported that Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy had advised the commander-in-chief not to intefere in the high profile cases. Military officials have been reportedly worried that a sweeping pardon could negatively affect discipline within the ranks.

This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.

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