President Trump on Wednesday praised a Navy SEAL who was acquitted of committing war crimes in the killing of a wounded ISIS captive in Mosul, Iraq.
“Congratulations to Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher, his wonderful wife Andrea, and his entire family,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “You have been through much together. Glad I could help!”
A jury of seven soldiers found Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher not guilty on Tuesday of charges that included killing unarmed civilians. Gallagher was found guilty of wrongfully posing with the corpse of the 12-year-old ISIS fighter, a charge that carries a maximum prison sentence of four months.
FILE – In this Thursday, May 30, 2019, file photo, Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher leaves a military courtroom on Naval Base San Diego with his wife, Andrea Gallagher, in San Diego. Edward Gallagher, who has been charged with allegedly killing an Islamic State prisoner in his care and attempted murder for the shootings of two Iraq civilians in 2017, is scheduled to go on trial Monday, June 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Julie Watson, File)
Trump’s tweet came after a Wednesday interview on “Fox Friends” during which Gallagher thanked Trump, Fox News and two congressmen for their support during his trial. The president had previously considered pardoning Gallagher if he was found guilty.
“They tried to frame me as a criminal from the get-go but we knew the truth the whole time,” Gallagher told Fox News. “We knew I was innocent of these charges the whole time and I overcame it by having my strong wife with me the whole time.”
Two Navy SEALs in Gallagher’s unit testified that they saw Gallagher stab the fighter, but one changed his story on the stand by saying he, and not Gallagher, caused the victim’s death by suffocating him. Gallagher’s attorney said outside court on Tuesday that he would likely go home Wednesday because he has already served time in pretrial detention.
Trump demanded in March that Gallagher be set free from a military brig and placed in confinement at a Navy base. The judge presiding over the case released Gallagher from custody altogether in May.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., one of the congressmen Gallagher thanked on Wednesday, previously advocated for pardoning Gallagher and admitted to taking a photo with a dead combatant during his time as a Marine.
Gallagher is expected to be sentenced on Wednesday for the charge of posing for a photo with a casualty. Gallagher’s lawyer told Fox News that he expects Gallagher to be released Wednesday because he spent more time in pretrial detention than the length of the maximum sentence.
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