President Trump appears to be ready to pardon an embattled Navy SEAL as the nation prepares to commemorate Memorial Day weekend.
The president has requested a review of the case of Navy SEAL Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher who in 2017 was charged with shooting civilians in Iraq and fatally stabbing a wounded teenage ISIS fighter.
The politics surrounding the case are complicated, as it is the first fracture in the close-knit SEAL Team environment in which team members will testify against one of their brothers for bragging about civilian collateral damage, including women.
However, critics of Gallagher seem to have forgotten the post-9/11 terror threat, the “fog of war” as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once called it, and the fact that Osama bin Laden himself used a woman as a shield just prior to being shot.
Critics also seem to have forgotten that former presidents have issued frivolous pardons in the past for big donors, friends, and even terrorists.
Former President Bill Clinton pardoned a whopping 450 people, compared to just 75 who were pardoned under President George W. Bush. Among the 450 Clinton pardoned, a stunning 140 of them occurred as his last order of business on his final day in office on Jan. 20, 2001.
One of those pardoned was Marc Rich, a man who owed $48 million in taxes and was suspected to be involved in several nefarious Iraqi oil deals involving four million barrels of oil. Rich’s wife, Denise, had contributed $1 million to the Democratic Party, $450,000 to Clinton’s Presidential Center, and another $100,000 to Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate campaign.
The pardon appeared to be such a quid-pro-quo of political cash in exchange for a pardon that even former President Jimmy Carter said the pardon was “disgraceful.” Longtime Clinton supporters James Carville and Terry McAuliffe were also critical of the act.
Prior to the Rich pardon, Clinton commuted the sentences of 16 members of the FALN Puerto Rican terror group that set of 120 bombs in the United States, primarily in New York City and Chicago. The acts killed six people and reportedly mamed dozens of others including law enforcement officers.
Clinton also pardoned his longtime friend Susan McDougal, who served prison time for not testifying against the Clintons in the Whitewater scandal involving investment property in Arkansas.
In his one-day pardoning spree Clinton also pardoned his own brother, Roger Clinton, for drug charges from a decade prior.
In fact, Clinton even pardoned a pair of carnival-owner friends of Tony Rodham, the youngest brother of Hillary Clinton, who had been convicted of bank fraud in connection with their company United Shows International.
Talk about a circus.
Given the frivolous Clinton pardons, Trump would be well within his right to use his unfettered powers of presidential pardon in the Navy SEAL case as Memorial Day looms.
Meantime the military community in San Diego is rallying around Gallagher and his family, starting a #FreeEddie campaign via social media and holding fundraising events around town. The feelings from service members’ families, especially military wives, is strong.
“Chelsea Manning committed espionage and risked the lives of his fellow soldiers, yet was treated like royalty by liberal Democrats. Eddie Gallagher is an American Hero who has been treated like a criminal, denied his constitutional rights, and had his children pulled out of their home by gunpoint. This is only slightly less subtle than Hillary Clinton leaving four Americans to die on a rooftop in Benghazi,” said Ashley Hayek, the wife of a United States Marine and scout sniper platoon commander who served three deployments in the War on Terror. “I’m grateful that Eddie’s wife Andrea is willing to fight for him. By doing so, she’s standing up for all military families and the sacrifices we have made.”
Bernard Kerik, who served as commissioner of the New York Police Department on 9/11 and who also served as the acting interior minister of Iraq in 2003, arrived in San Diego to support Gallagher. Kerik is one of many high-profile figures supporting Gallagher’s team in advance of Thursday’s court hearing.
That is, if the case is not thrown out by then.
As if the Navy SEAL’s case is not already a made-for-Hollywood movie, there could be a cliffhanger ending.
Just as the case was set for court, reports emerged that government lawyers had actually spied on Gallagher’s legal team. The government allegedly “inserted or caused to be inserted” tracking software in emails exchanged with the defendant’s lawyers, a Navy Times reporter and a judge advocate general working on the case, which would allow the government to have access to the files on the recipients’ computers.
The new development drew outrage from the Navy’s top legal brass.
“This situation has become untenable,” David G. Wilson, chief of staff of the Navy’s Defense Service Offices, wrote in a statement Sunday night. He cited “grave ethical concerns” over the tactics.
Others agree. In fact, this could be an opening for a presidential pardon.
“The lack of real evidence in Gallagher’s case has caused the prosecution to engage in unethical and criminal conduct in an attempt to achieve a victory in court,” said Kerik, who served as New York City’s top cop from 2000-2001. “You cannot break the law in order to enforce it.”
Regardless of whether the Navy SEAL’s case is thrown out, the point remains: President Trump has the power to pardon anyone he chooses — whether one likes it or not, it is a right granted to him by the Constitution. If prior presidents can pardon their big donors, family members, terrorists and close friends, President Trump can certainly pardon the troops who served our country during a brutal war on terror in our nation’s dire time of need.
Jen Kerns (@JenKernsUSA) served as spokeswoman for the California Republican Party; spokeswoman for California’s Proposition 8, which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court; and as a Fox News writer for the 2016 U.S. presidential debates.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.