President Trump condemned a military judge’s decision that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will receive no prison time for abandoning his post in eastern Afghanistan in 2009.
Early Friday afternoon, the commander in chief said it is a “complete and total disgrace” to the United States and its military that Bergdahl will avoid jail time.
The decision on Sergeant Bergdahl is a complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 3, 2017
Bergdahl, 31, had pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy in October and faced the possibility of life in prison. Instead, the judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance, gave Bergdahl a dishonorable discharge, demoted him from sergeant to private and ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine each month for the next 10 months.
The controversial decision concludes a fraught episode in U.S. military history. Bergdahl had been captured by the Taliban hours after leaving his post and held captive by the Haqqani network, allies of the Taliban, for five years. Several U.S. service members were injured searching for Bergdahl. Some critics claim that his actions led to the deaths of American troops but the prosecution did not provide evidence of this. Former President Barack Obama was heavily criticized after trading five Taliban terrorists for the soldier in May 2014.
Trump was particularly active on Twitter Friday, a day after his account was temporarily deactivated by a rogue customer-service employee. He lashed out at his former rival Hillary Clinton for allegedly rigging the Democratic primary against Bernie Sanders and the Justice Department for not investigating Clinton. He also promised to get revenge against ISIS after the group claimed credit for a terrorist attack in New York earlier this week.
But this is far from the first time Trump has attacked Bergdahl. He routinely calls Bergdahl a traitor and has lamented many times in speeches as a presidential candidate that he couldn’t simply be executed by firing squad.
“In the old days when we were strong and wise, we’d shoot a guy like that,” Trump said at a rally on Nov. 9, 2015.
Trump even incorporated Bergdahl into his presidential candidacy announcement on June 16, 2015, at Trump Tower in New York. He pointed to the prisoner exchange as evidence that Obama “doesn’t have a clue” and is “a bad negotiator.”
“He’s the one that did Bergdahl. We get Bergdahl, they get five killer terrorists that everybody wanted over there,” Trump said. “We get Bergdahl. We get a traitor. We get a no-good traitor, and they get the five people that they wanted for years, and those people are now back on the battlefield trying to kill us. That’s the negotiator we have.”
Trump’s contempt for Bergdahl has made many appearances on Twitter:
President Obama created a VERY BAD precedent by handing over five Taliban prisoners in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Another U.S. loss!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 1, 2014
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl should face the death penalty for desertion – five brave soldiers died trying to bring him back. U.S. has to get tough!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 26, 2015
Bowe Bergdahl walked off the base after he was told not to. Solders died looking for him. U.S. should NEVER have made the deal! PUNISHMENT?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2014
Can you imagine trading five really bad enemies of the U.S. for the freedom of traitor Bergdahl. Just another bad deal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2014
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