Trump to Restore SEAL Gallagher's Rank, Dismiss Soldiers' War Crimes Charges: Report

Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher and team members on deployment.
Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher and team members on deployment. (Courtesy Photo)

President Donald Trump will intervene in the cases against three troops who were accused of war crimes by dismissing charges against two soldiers and restoring the rank of a Navy SEAL, Fox News reported Monday.

Trump is expected to speak to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy about Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Matt Golsteyn, Fox News reported.

Lorance, a former platoon commander, is serving a 19-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, after he was convicted of murdering two men in Afghanistan and attempting to kill a third. Golsteyn is facing a court-martial after admitting to killing a suspected bomb maker in Afghanistan in 2010. The men were unarmed at the times of their deaths.

The president is also expected to restore Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher's rank to chief petty officer, according to Fox. That would reverse a decision made by the Navy's top officer last week that would see Gallagher retiring at the E-6 paygrade.

Related: CNO Denies Request to Allow Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher to Retire a Chief Petty Officer

Gallagher was recently found guilty of posing for a photo with a war casualty. He had also been accused of killing an unarmed Islamic State fighter and Iraqi civilians, but was found not guilty of those charges.

Fox reported that Trump is expected to act on the three cases within a week.

"This president recognizes the injustice of you train someone to go fight and kill the enemy, then they go kill the enemy in the way someone doesn't like, and we put them in jail or throw the book at them," Pete Hegseth, host of "Fox and Friends," said when announcing the development. "... With Veterans Day coming up, action is imminent at the president's level -- I can confirm that."

Defense officials referred questions about the cases to the White House. White House officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tim Parlatore, who represents Gallagher, said Trump restoring his client's rank to chief shows leadership.

"That's what we want a commander in chief to do: To pay attention to what's going on in the military and [take action] when they see an injustice," Parlatore told "As much as everyone wants to say he shouldn't interfere, his title is commander in chief. … He does have an obligation to make sure things are running correctly."

Hegseth said Trump "has a lot of latitude under the Uniform Code of Military Justice to dismiss a case or change a sentence."

Golsteyn's attorney told Task & Purpose he's grateful the president is taking action ahead of the officer's court-martial, and Lorance's lawyer told the outlet he hopes Trump's move will allow the soldier to be "released immediately from Leavenworth" and returned to active duty.

Parlatore said Gallagher is facing further punishment from his command, which the attorney said is threatening to strip the SEAL of his trident as early as Monday.

"It's an interesting test to see what they do after this, because if they decide to move forward on this after the letter I sent and what the president did this morning, that would really show such a lack of judgment," Parlatore said.

Navy Special Warfare Command did not respond to questions about whether Gallagher would lose his trident. Parlatore sent a strongly worded letter to Rear Adm. Colin Green, head of the command, on Sunday, warning that the move would be unlawful.

In the letter, the attorney also took issue with Green's recent move to stamp out bad behavior in the ranks, and alleged the issues within the command are a result of "failed leadership."

"I have come to speak with many members of the NSW community and have heard a common refrain -- your command uses operators and then casts them away like garbage the moment they no longer satisfy your needs," Parlatore's letter states. "... Haircuts, unit patches and Eddie Gallagher are not the problems -- high [operational tempo] and lack of proper support from failed leadership are the problem."

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

Read more: SEALs who Testified Against Gallagher Say Case Exposes Cracks in Military Justice System

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