- US Navy prosecutors in the high-profile war crimes trial of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher allegedly attempted to spy on members of the defence team, as well as one member of the media.
- Among the defence lawyers who received suspicious emails with embedded tracking software was Marc Mukasey, a relatively new addition to the team who currently also serves as a member of President Donald Trump’s legal team.
- The president has taken an interest in the Gallagher case, and there are rumours that he may pardon the Navy SEAL for his alleged crimes, which include stabbing a captured militant teenager to death in Iraq, as well as shooting civilians.
- Mukasey stressed to Business Insider that he has never talked with the president about the Navy’s alleged spying activities or any other aspect of the Gallagher trial.
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The US Navy spied on a member of President Donald Trump’s legal team while trying to hunt down leaks in the war crimes trial of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, according to his defence lawyers.
Special Operations Chief Gallagher was expected to stand trial next Tuesday for murdering a captured militant teenager, and other allegations, during a deployment to Iraq in 2017, but his trial has been delayed, according to Military Times, due to troubling accusations that the prosecution spied on the defence and a member of the media using emails with embedded tracking software.
One member of Gallagher’s defence team who received one of the suspicious emails was Marc Mukasey, who is currently also serving as a member of the president’s legal team, according to Gallagher’s lead defence attorney Timothy Parlatore.
Parlatore told Business Insider that not only did the prosecution send out emails with tracking software able to retrieve IP addresses and other metadata, Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) intelligence also conducted a sweeping background investigation on members of the defence and a journalist, even going so far as to dig up speeding tickets.
While the actions allegedly taken by the prosecution normally require a court order, NCIS, according to the defence, did not have authorization to pursue its investigation into leaks in this manner.
Mukasey told Task & Purpose that he joined the Navy SEAL’s defence team about a month ago, but he made his first court appearance as a member of this team Wednesday. His involvement in the Gallagher case and his connection to the president is noteworthy, as it means that he represents a client who has the ability to affect the outcome of the military trial, a highly unusual situation.
President Trump, who also serves as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, inserted himself into the Gallagher case for the first time back in March, when he tweeted that Gallagher was to be moved out of San Diego’s Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar to less restrictive confinement.
“I have never talked to the president about the Eddie Gallagher trial,” Mukasey told BI in a Thursday phone call, and declined to answer any other question about the Navy SEAL’s case.
Last week, The New York Times reported that the Trump administration had made an expedited request for the paperwork to make a Memorial Day weekend pardon of Gallagher possible. A number of retired US generals, veterans, and even former military lawyers have argued that pardoning accused and convicted war criminals risks toppling the military’s good order and disclipline.
At Wednesday’s court hearing, the lead defence attorney drove home the point that Mukasey hasn’t talked to Trump about the case. “Marc Mukasey has not talked to the president about this,” Parlatore explained to Military Times. “That’s not what he’s doing here, and if the president chooses to act, it will be on his own.”