Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) called the mother of Lt. Clint Lorance from Air Force One to inform her of President Donald Trump’s then-forthcoming pardon of her son.
Graves recalled the phone call during a Friday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with host Rebecca Mansour and special guest host Rick Manning.
Earlier on Friday, Trump granted clemency to Army Maj. Matt Golsteyn and 1st Lt. Clint Lorance. Lorance had already served more than six years of a 19-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, KS, after being found guilty of murder for ordering his men in Afghanistan to engage a motorcycle with three men on it.
As part of the Justice for Warriors Caucus, graves advocated for presidential intervention in the form of clemency for Lorance, Golsteyn, and other military servicepersons viewed by the congressional group as wrongfully charged or convicted of crimes related to their military duties.
Trump’s decision to pardon Lorance was made amidst “resistance” from the Pentagon, said Graves.
“It’s my understanding that there was a good bit of resistance [from the Department of Defense],” Graves stated, “and look, having dealt with this issue and having worked on this issue for over a year now, I am well aware of some resistance within the Department of Defense.”
Graves remarked, “[We need] to look forward and make sure that we are treating our military men and women fairly, which is why I asked [Donald Trump] to order a review of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which effectively [are] their rules under which they have to operate. We asked that there be a review carried out of that document to ensure that future warfighters are treated fairly, and that you take into consideration the conditions under which they are operating.”
Graves continued, “President Trump clearly had the courage [and] the vision to do this. We don’t know what the next president is going to do or not do, and I think that the right thing to do in this case is to take a fresh look at those standards, [and] to make sure that they are updated based upon new information [and] the actual conditions under which our warfighters are operating [to] ensure that our military men and women are being treated fairly, because we shouldn’t have to take presidential actions [to] ensure that our military men and women are being treated fairly. That should be guaranteed.”
Graves recalled his aforementioned advocacy at the White House.
“I had the opportunity to spend a good amount of time with the president over the last few weeks,” Graves shared. “We’ve talked about this repeatedly, and I think that [Donald Trump] made an incredibly brave, courageous, and correct move today in pardoning these soldiers.”
Graves said, “I’ve been with [Donald Trump] four [or] five times over the past few weeks and had a number of discussions with him, knowing that they were having ongoing deliberations within the White House [regarding pardoning Clint Lorance]. We discussed it at length twice in the last week.
“Ultimately, last night as we were flying on Air Force One, [Donald Trump] just looked up and he said, ‘You call Lieutenant Lorance’s mom and you let her know that we’re going to issue a pardon,’ and I just looked at him and [asked], ‘Now, really?’ He said, ‘Yeah. You go call her, right now,’ and so I did. I jumped on the phone on Air Force one as we’re flying and spoke to Anna Lorance, and obviously her emotional response was absolutely incredible,” noted Graves.
“Last night, [Donald Trump] asked me to call so I did speak to Anna Lorrance,” Graves recalled. “I do understand that today [the White House is] supposed to be making phone calls to the three families. I can’t confirm that but I do know that that was the plan, that the president was going to be reaching out to the three families today.”
Graves considered, “Here is your son in prison for six years for being a warfighter, [and he was] going to be in prison for another 13 years. There has been an amazing community out there of veterans and other military-related folks all over the country that have been out there advocating … educating … [and] praying for this day to come.”
“Obviously this [is an] incredible relief and [an] incredible burden lifted off of [Clint Lorrance’s] mother,” added Graves. “She was just very raw with emotion at the time, but she was profusely thanking the president and asking me to pass on her thanks to him and let us know that she had been praying for the president and couldn’t even express her gratitude.”
Excessively restrictive rules of engagement and overly aggressive prosecutions of military service members for war crimes compromise recruitment for the armed services, estimated Graves.
“Without carrying out these actions, without standing behind our military men and women in combat, you really dissuade, I think, the recruiting of new members of our military if they’re sitting here thinking, ‘Gosh, I can actually be convicted of murder in a war scenario,'” determined Graves. “This is crazy. Certainly we need to take all efforts to protect lives, but I think there were some imperfections in these three cases and the president courageously and boldly did the right thing.”
“I think that [Donald Trump] is very concerned about the disconnect between the conditions under which our war fighters are operating [and the UCMJ],” added Graves, warning of the “adverse effect this would have on the morale of our military men and women.”
Beyond concerns about justice for Graves and other military service members charged with or convicted of war crimes, Graves characterized Trump’s rationale as linked to broader nationals security concerns.
“It is crystal clear that one of the major motivators for [Donald Trump] is wanting our warfighters to know that he stands behind them [and] backs them,” Lorance said.
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