President Donald Trump could pardon several members of the military accused or convicted of war crimes on or around Memorial Day, two U.S. officials told the New York Times on Saturday.
The officials said the Trump administration made expedited requests last week for paperwork needed to pardon them on or around Memorial Day, according to the Times.
One request is reportedly for Navy SEAL Edward (Eddie) Gallagher, 39, who faces allegations that he stabbed a wounded 17-year-old terrorist in Iraq in 2017 and shot two civilians. Gallagher intends to fight those allegations when his military trial starts on May 28.
According to the Times, others “believed” to be included is Nicholas Slatten, a former Blackwater security contractor who fired shots in a September 2007 massacre that killed 14 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad; Army Green Beret Maj. Matthew Golsteyn who was accused of killing a suspected terrorist in Afghanistan in 2010; and a group of Marine Corps snipers who were charged with urinating on dead Taliban corpses.
The officials said the White House sent the paperwork requests on Friday to the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney, which alerted the military branches.
A senior military official told the Times that the DOJ stressed that all files would have to be complete before Memorial Day weekend when the president planned to pardon them.
Earlier this month, Trump pardoned Army First Lt. Michael Behenna, who had been convicted of killing an Iraqi man during an interrogation in 2008. Behenna said the man had tried to grab his weapon.
Gallagher’s wife Andrea Gallagher and brother Sean Gallagher told Breitbart News in recent interviews that the accusations against Eddie originated with disgruntled junior SEALs he led during his 2017 deployment to Iraq.
They said Gallagher felt the junior SEALS were not performing during that deployment, and they felt he was exposing them to unnecessary risk. What started as petty gripes later escalated into alleged war crimes after the platoon returned home, Andrea and Sean said.
They say the junior SEALs first claimed that Gallagher stole energy bars, cookie butter, and Red Bull from their care packages but escalated the claims in order to derail Gallagher’s promotion from E-7 to E-8, a plum assignment training other SEALs, and an award of a Silver Star.
Recently, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Gallagher’s lawyer Tim Parlatore screened a video they believe exonerates Gallagher to other members of Congress. While Gallagher is accused of stabbing the wounded ISIS fighter, the video allegedly shows Gallagher providing him with medical treatment.
Gallagher is also accused of shooting an old man and a young girl, but his wife and brother say those allegations were entirely made up.