BERGDAHL’S DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: TRUMP COMMENTS MAKE FAIR TRIAL IMPOSSIBLE
February 17, 2017
Military prosecutors have promised to provide Bowe Bergdahl a fair trial after he was charged with desertion during a tour in Afghanistan. Concerns over the ability to grant Bergdahl an unbiased trial arose during President Donald Trump’s election campaign after the then-Presidential-nominee labeled him as a “traitor”. Bergdahl has even gone as far as claiming his constitutional right to due process was violated by Trump, who was certainly aware that his statement would reach far and wide, as well as be taken to heart by his supporters.
Prosecutors were quick to counter that Trump’s harsh criticism was merely rhetoric meant for the campaign trail. On February 1st, a prosecutorial filing mentioned that the comments were to be taken only “by their colloquial meaning.” One comment from Trump – that Bergdahl should be tossed from an airplane midflight – acts as the centerpiece for their argument that he was not being serious. The prosecution’s argument asserts that the gravity of words depends only on their intent and not their actual definition or reasonable interpretation.
DEFENSE MOVES FOR CHARGE DISMISSAL
The defense sees the statements as having far more weight than the prosecution is willing to admit, noting that the Trump administration has yet to disavow the comments. Within Bergdahl’s defense motion filing that calls for the charges to be dismissed, attorneys cite more than 40 statements and remarks from Trump that condemned Bergdhal. Each statement was made before the public, and some were made as recently as August 2016.
With concern that any juror selected would be aware of Trump’s claim that Bergdahl is a traitor and try to side with the new President, intentionally or subconsciously, the defense appears to be arguing more that the case is impossible to fairly try more than it is trying to argue that Bergdahl did not desert his post. Unless there are further developments, Bergdahl is scheduled to be tried on charges of both desertion and “misbehavior before the enemy” come April. Since ejecting someone from an airplane is not a legal penalty, the worst Bergdahl could face if convicted is life imprisonment.
(For more information regarding the ongoing Sergeant Bergdahl case, the ArmyTimes has posted a full article, which can be viewed by clicking here.)
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