Military judge Col. Jeffrey Nance says he has questions about the “disturbing” string to public condemnations of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl by President Trump, and whether those comments are going to seriously impact the public sense that Bergdahl is able to get a fair trial.
Bergdahl was a prisoner of war in Afghanistan from 2009 until 2014, when the US finally secured his release. He is now facing desertion charges for having been off-base at the time of his capture. The issue was widely politicized, with some Republicans condemning President Obama for even securing Bergdahl’s release.
President Trump was among the critics, declaring Bergdahl a “no good traitor,” and insisting during the campaign that if he was elected he would personally “review” any military court ruling he personally thought was too lenient on Beghdahl.
Bergdahl’s defense has sought a dismissal of the charges, saying that Trump’s position as commander-in-chief makes this as case of unlawful command influence in the trial. Prosecutors, however, argue Trump’s comments were just political rhetoric targeting Obama and shouldn’t be taken seriously.
According to the defense, there are more than 40 instances of Trump making comments condemning Bergdahl during public appearances, including the threats to “review” any ruling he didn’t like. This certainly gives the appearance of this as more than just a one-off political rant, and the judge is seen to be very concerned about the appearance of presidential interference in the case.