President Donald Trump continues to stick to his claim that substantively accused war criminals like the now retired Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher should have their alleged atrocities ignored in the name of what to him are upstanding military operations. To that end, he repeatedly publicly intervened in Gallagher’s since concluded trial on war crimes charges, even demanding that the Navy give him back his rank after a demotion after Gallagher was convicted of posing with the body of a dead ISIS fighter. Now, an anonymous Navy SEAL who says he fears for his safety has harshly criticized Trump’s behavior in a newly available private interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune.
The SEAL explained:
‘When you look at politicians getting involved in military justice — whether it’s a congressman from San Diego or the president — with their involvement, it isn’t justice. It’s political, when shooting civilians and executing prisoners shouldn’t be.’
Besides his successfully prosecuted charge of posing with that dead opponent, Gallagher was also accused by numerous now former fellow soldiers of atrocities like shooting at random, unarmed civilians including one who seemed to be around twelve years old and stabbing the teenage ISIS fighter he posed with after his group took him in for medical treatment.
Gallagher has denied the charges, claiming they’re just symptoms of spite over his “leadership style,” but in newly available video interviews with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, one of his accusers quite straightforwardly calls him “freaking evil.” That didn’t stop Trump from welcoming the Gallaghers to his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort recently, which follows other support like defense of the idea of posing with dead opponents from then-California Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter, who is resigning from Congress after pleading guilty to a years-long scheme of embezzling money for personal use from his campaigns.
The anonymous SEAL is not the only one who’s spoken out against the president’s belligerent intervention in Gallagher’s case — the now former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer did the same. After getting pressured out of the job over trying to hold Gallagher accountable against the president’s wishes, Spencer proclaimed that Trump “has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices.” All the White House had in response was the mockery from Kellyanne Conway that she’s “sure it hurts to lose your position, but the president stands by his decision.” Could it even be called a decision, though? Or was it more like a hodge-podge of rash impulses driven by whatever happened to be on Fox News at the moment? The case — and advocacy for Gallagher — figured prominently on the network.
Either way, Trump has shown no indication of backing down from his antagonistic stances.
He rose to power on the fumes of his violent assertions that he’d be running mass deportations and building a southern border wall, and he’s still trying to run with these concepts and dredge up more virulent antagonism against immigrants and other groups at campaign rally after rally in the process.