13:29, October 31 335 0 abajournal.com

2017-10-31 13:29:05
Trump’s criticism of Bergdahl will be considered as mitigation evidence in sentencing, judge says

A military judge who will sentence Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for desertion says he will consider critical comments by President Donald Trump as weighing in favor of a lighter sentence.

The judge, Col. Jeffery Nance, said on Monday that he will consider Trump’s comments as mitigation evidence, report the New York Times, the Washington Post and Reuters. Bergdahl had pleaded guilty on Oct. 16 to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy for leaving his Army base in Afghanistan in 2009.

Bergdahl was captured and tortured by the Taliban. He was released in a 2014 prisoner exchange.

During the presidential campaign, Trump called Bergdahl “a no-good traitor who should have been executed.” When Bergdahl pleaded guilty, Trump said he couldn’t comment, but added, “I think people have heard my comments in the past.”

Defense lawyers had asked Nance to dismiss the case or limit punishment on the ground that Trump’s remarks had amounted to unlawful command influence. Nance said in a ruling on Monday that he was “completely unaffected” by Trump’s opinions and no reasonable member of the public would have significant doubts about the fairness of the proceeding.

Nance refused to dismiss the case but said he will consider the president’s comments “as mitigation evidence as I arrive at an appropriate sentence.”

Bergdahl faces a possible maximum sentence of life imprisonment. He testified on Monday that he made “a horrible mistake” and he never expected or intended anyone to be hurt by his “bad choices.”

One of the service members who participated in an attempt to rescue Bergdahl, Mark Allen, was shot in the head and had part of his brain removed during surgery. He can no longer speak or walk. His wife testified on Monday.

“He lost me as a wife. I’ve become his caregiver. It doesn’t mean I love him any less,” she said.