Trump reportedly wants to pardon accused or convicted war criminals in time for Memorial Day

President Donald Trump arrives to speak at the National Association of REALTORS Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo, Friday, May 17, 2019, in Washington. Assoicated Press/Alex Brandon
  • President Donald Trump reportedly wants to pardon a number of accused or convicted war criminals in time for Memorial Day.
  • The Trump administration made expedited requests for paperwork for the pardons earlier this week, The New York Times reported.
  • Among those considered is Edward Gallagher, the Navy SEAL who allegedly stabbed an enemy captive and shot unarmed civilians in Iraq in 2017.
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President Donald Trump is reportedly weighing pardons for several members of the US military who have been accused or convicted of war crimes.

The Trump administration made expedited requests for paperwork earlier this week, so as to have the pardons ready around Memorial Day, The New York Times reported Saturday, citing two US officials.

One of the possible pardons is for Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, the Navy SEAL who will soon be brought to trial for allegedly stabbing an enemy captive and shooting unarmed civilians in Iraq in 2017.

Another name floated was Nicholas Slatten, a former Blackwater security contractor recently convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting of dozens of unarmed civilians in Baghdad in 2007.

Trump is also reportedly considering pardoning Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, a Green Beret charged with murdering a suspected bomb maker in Afghanistan in 2010.

Read more: Here are all the people Trump has pardoned so far – and who he could choose next

Donald Trump military
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to Air Force personnel during an event September 15, 2017 at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. President Trump attended the event to celebrate the 70th birthday of the U.S. Air Force. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Both Gallagher and Golsteyn’s cases have featured prominently on Fox News, where the men have been lauded as heroes. Trump even tweeted last December he would be “reviewing the case of a ‘U.S. Military hero,’ Major Matt Golsteyn.”

The two officials who spoke to The Times said they had not seen a complete list of people Trump may pardon, nor did they know if other members of the military were on it.

Trump made a similar move in recent weeks, pardoning Michael Behenna, a former US Army Ranger convicted in 2008 of murdering an Iraqi prisoner, Ali Mansur.

Behenna was released from prison on parole in 2014 after serving five years out of a 15-year sentence.

Legal experts fretted on Saturday that pardoning alleged war criminals – particularly ones who have not yet stood trial – would damage trust in the US military.

“These are all extremely complicated cases that have gone through a careful system of consideration. A freewheeling pardon undermines that whole system,” Gary Solis, a retired military judge, told The Times. “It raises the prospect in the minds of the troops that says, ‘Whatever we do, if we can get the folks back home behind us, maybe we can get let off.'”