Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s attorneys presented a motion to a military judge Monday morning arguing that President Trump’s comments about Bergdahl on the campaign trail have violated his due process rights.
Bergdahl appeared before a military judge Monday in Fort Bragg, North Carolina for a pretrial hearing, WBTV reported.
Bergdahl faces desertion charges for endangering his fellow soldiers who went to search for him after he allegedly left his post in Afghanistan in 2009.
Taliban fighters captured him within hours and held him captive for five years until the Obama administration swapped five Guantanamo Bay-detained Taliban prisoners for his release.
The hearing focused on Trump’s negative comments on the campaign trail about Bergdahl.
Trump made over 60 negative statements about Bergdahl while on the campaign trail, calling him a “dirty rotten traitor” among other things, Stars and Stripes reported.
Trump also claimed that Bergdahl should be executed or sent back to his Taliban captors. Trump’s last statement about Bergdahl was in August, the Daily Caller reported.
Bergdahl’s attorneys said the comments would prevent Bergdahl from receiving a fair trial.
“There can be no doubt about what President Trump thinks of Sgt. Bergdahl,” Bergdahl’s lead attorney, Eugene Fidell, wrote in a court filing concerning the motion. “In a democratic society, it is a core premise that statements made by those who seek elective office must be taken seriously, especially when those statements are made repeatedly.”
Army Maj. Justin Oshana, the military’s lead prosecutor, said Trump’s comments were campaign rhetoric meant to criticize then-President Obama.
“Any observer would be aware of Mr. Trump’s status at the time that he made the statements, and of the fact that he did not have any position within the government or the military,” Oshana wrote.
Col. Jeffery R. Nance, the Army judge in the court-martial proceedings, appeared to share the concerns of Bergdahl’s attorneys, calling Trump’s comments “disturbing material” and a potential “black eye” on the military justice system, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
Bergdahl’s trial is expected to start in April.