Republicans Stand by a President Who Pardons Accused War Criminals

Carla Seaquist
5 min readDec 10, 2019

Just when you thought Donald Trump had smashed through every last guardrail of American democracy, he finds new frontiers in degradation.

In pardoning accused war criminals, Trump achieves that new low, marking a dangerous precedent for our military and scarring, perhaps irreparably, our good name and moral standing in the world.

Outrage at this degradation has gotten lost in the whirlwind of impeachment — House Democrats are reportedly drawing up Articles of Impeachment as I write — but, no matter: It is important to state for the record one’s protest. In a nearly three-year tenure of unparalleled egregiousness, Trump got creative in his malevolence with this contrived show of support for “our boys.”

At issue: Trump gave full pardons to Maj. Mathew L. Goldsteyn, an Army Special Forces officer who faced murder charges for killing an unarmed Afghan whom he believed was a Taliban bomb-maker, and to Clint Lorance, a former Army lieutenant serving a 19-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth for killing two Afghan civilians.

Receiving the most media play is Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL cited for multiple charges — shooting civilians in Iraq, killing a captive enemy fighter with a hunting knife, and threatening to kill fellow SEALs if they reported him. Gallagher was acquitted by a military jury of all charges except a minor one: bringing discredit to the armed forces by posing for a photo with the corpse of a captive he was accused of killing. When the Navy moved to demote Gallagher and remove his SEAL Trident pin, Trump came to his rescue, blocking the demotion.

Trump’s defense? “We train our boys to be killing machines, then prosecute them when they kill!” A Fox News host commended Trump’s “fidelity to the war fighter,” saying “The benefit of the doubt should go to the guys pulling the trigger.” Trump claims he is “standing up for three great warriors against the deep state.” So much for the Geneva Conventions; Trump is now the final arbiter of military justice.

And now we learn: Trump will campaign with these accused war criminals, using them as props in his bid for re-election in 2020! Starting, already, last Sunday night, at a fundraiser in Florida (also here).

About which,, a political action committee founded by Iraq war veterans in 2006, writes: “If we weren’t three years into this astonishingly…



Carla Seaquist

Our times examined via politics, culture, morality. Author, "Can America Save Itself from Decline?" (Vol. II). Playwright. Fmr. HuffPost.