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How Does Trump's Election Affect the Bergdahl Case?

Out on the campaign trail, Donald Trump singled out Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl numerous times as a "traitor" who deserved severe punishment for his alleged cooperation with Taliban forces during his five-year captivity. While those charges haven't been proven, Bergdahl's case has been a hot-button topic for much of the public who believe his 2009 disappearance was actually a defection from the U.S. Army.

Now, as the Fayetteville Observer reports, Bergdahl's attorneys are aggressively pushing for a dismissal of all charges against their client now that Donald Trump is President-Elect. According to the paper, Trump's highly publicized comments—followed by his subsequent election—pose an unprecedented violation of Bergdahl's right to an unbiased jury trial.

"We're deadly serious about seeking a dismissal," Attorney Eugene R. Fidell told the paper this month. "There's never been a presidential candidate who singled out a military member for this kind of abuse before. It's never happened."

This is not the first time Bergdahl's team has addressed Trump's comments. Earlier this year, Attorney Franklin D. Rosenblatt wrote a letter to Trump requesting an interview him about his comments concerning Bergdahl. "I request to interview you as soon as possible about your comments about Sergeant Bergdahl during frequent appearances in front of large audiences in advance of his court-martial," the letter read, "based on your personal knowledge of matters that are relevant to Sergeant Bergdahl's right to a fair trial."

"We've Been Keeping Careful Notes"

Throughout Trump's raucous presidential campaign, it had been difficult for both the media and the public differentiate his language from mere publicity to actual policy. He, however, has not minced words over what he thought of Bergdahl's case. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, he told a crowd of supporters that Bergdahl should be dropped into ISIS territory before the U.S. bombed “the hell out of it." There is no known connection between Bergdahl's case and ISIS.

According to Bergdahl's defense team, Trump's comments have been closely monitored. "We've been keeping careful notes on him," Attorney Fidell said. "We have a Trump defamation log that goes on for page after page after page. Everybody knows that he's been going back and forth across the country addressing rallies attended by tens of thousands of people and viewed by tens of thousands of other Americans, thanks to the internet. Mr. Trump has created a substantial problem, which I anticipate will be the subject of motion practice, probably after Inauguration Day."

Experts agree that Trump's comments are a critical issue, especially after the election. "If there's a perception that the president has already made a decision of a person's guilt or innocence... in a court-martial, then that case should be thrown out because it's fatally flawed," Professor Rachel VanLandingham of Southwestern Law School.

Further Court-Martial Delays

Army Col. Jeffery Nance also accepted a motion filed by Bergdahl's prosecutors this week to further delay the court-martial to May 2017. Prosecutors argued last month that the process of clearing certain classified documents for the defense's review in the discovery stage would not allow them to be prepared for the February court-martial date.

At that same hearing, testimony from two Soliders was heard in regards to one of my most critical issues in Bergdahl's case: whether or not his fellow Soliders were harmed while searching for him. Air Force Maj. John Marx testified that, during a search, Army National Guard Sgt. First Class Mark Allen was shot in the head by Taliban operatives, leaving him disabled. Former Army Spc. Jonathan Morita also testified that a Taliban grenade injured his hand as he searched for Bergdahl. Bergdahl's lawyers have maintained accountability for these combat injuries lies with the Taliban.

Bergdahl walked from his post in Afghanistan in 2009, was promptly captured by the Taliban, and held for five years. He was freed via a controversial prisoner swap in 2014 and later charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. According to Bergdahl, he left his post to seek intervention from a neighboring base for the questionable leadership at his own outpost. Bergdahl has since been diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder.

Joseph L. Jordan, Attorney at Law is a 10-year U.S. Army veteran who now travels the globe to protect accused members of our armed forces. If you are a military servicemember who has been accused of a crime or is subject to an adverse administrative action, then your choice in counsel is critical to securing a favorable outcome.

Get counsel on your side capable of providing results. Contact us today to request a free case evaluation.

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