Trump called Bergdahl a 'dirty, rotten traitor,' now a judge has to decide if it matters
WASHINGTON – Attorneys for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will spar with Army prosecutors Monday over disparaging comments about the accused deserter made by President Donald Trump on the campaign trail and whether they will have an impact on the soldier’s ability to receive a fair trial.
Trump made more than 60 negative references to Bergdahl during public campaign rallies and speeches between June 2014 and August 2016, calling the former Taliban captive “a dirty, rotten traitor” and opining that he should be executed or sent back to his captors. Army judge, Col. Jeffery R. Nance, will have to decide whether those statements by Trump before he was elected president of the United States could affect the soldier’s court-martial.
Bergdahl’s attorneys said they will argue Nance must dismiss the case in its entirety because Trump’s comments denied the sergeant his right to due process and they amounted to unlawful command influence, because the commander in chief has made it clear that he wants the soldier punished. Prosecutors, in court documents filed this week, wrote Trump’s comments have no impact on Bergdahl’s ability to receive a fair trial and argue the case cannot be dismissed over statements made by a private citizen, even if that individual later becomes president.
Monday’s pre-trial hearing at Fort Bragg in North Carolina is the last hearing on the docket ahead of the court-martial scheduled for April. But Nance is expected to add additional hearings to that docket on Monday, and he might push back Bergdahl’s trial date for a third time since the Army formally charged him with desertion and the more-serious misbehavior before the enemy in 2015.
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