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Report: President Trump is doubling down, wants pardoned warriors to hit campaign trail with him

Not backing down

George Etheredge/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Donald Trump is doubling down on his controversial decision to absolve consequence for three U.S. military personnel convicted or accused of war crimes as now the president is aiming to bring the three men on the 2020 campaign trail with him, according to a Daily Beast report.

The report — which lists two unidentified sources — says Trump would like to have now-cleared Army First Lt. Clint Lorance, Army Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, and Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher appear at rallies during his re-election bid and possibly even take part in the GOP convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, next year.

"He briefly discussed making it a big deal at the convention," one of the sources told the Daily Beast. "The president made a reference to the 2016 [convention] and where they brought on-stage heroes" like Marcus Luttrell, whose harrowing experience in combat was portrayed in the major motion picture, "Lone Survivor."

What are the details?

At the time of the pardoning, Lorance was six years into serving a 19-year prison sentence for murder after ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghans in 2012. Golsteyn was awaiting to stand trial for an alleged wrongful killing during the Afghanistan War. Gallagher, a Navy SEAL, though found not guilty on charges that he illegally killed an already captured ISIS terrorist, had been demoted in rank and convicted on a lesser charge of posing with the dead body.

Why does this matter?

Some in the media have strongly criticized Trump's Nov. 15 decision to sign executive grants of clemency for Lorance and Golsteyn and restore the rank of recently demoted Gallagher, while others have heralded the president for siding with the warriors who protect our country.

In the aftermath of Trump's decision, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, who was handling Gallagher's case, was ousted from his post.

On Tuesday, more reports came out suggesting that Trump's pardoning and Spencer's removal pointed to a growing strain in the relationship between the the president and Pentagon officials, and alluding to Trump's desire to unshackle the military from Obama-era micromanagement.

If the Daily Beast report is accurate, it shows that Trump likely views his decision to clear the military officials not only as an act of justice, but also an action that will help his re-election bid, demonstrating his support for troops on the ground.

Editor's note: This piece has been updated to refer to Army First Lt. Clint Lorance, Army Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, and Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher as military personnel. The original version incorrectly referred to them as military officials.

One last thing…
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