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    Deserter Bergdahl Gets off Scot Free, Won’t Serve Jail Time

    Deserter Bergdahl Gets off Scot Free, Won’t Serve Jail Time

    Presiding judge used Trump’s comments on the campaign trail as mitigation evidence

    Bowe Bergdahl will serve no jail time for deserting his Afghanistan post in 2009 leaving other soldiers endangered, a military judge concluded Friday.

    Bergdahl will instead be dishonorably discharged and required to surrender “pay equal to $1,000 per month for 10 months,” Politico reported.

    Bergdahl appeared tense, grimaced and clenched his jaw. His attorneys put their arms around him and one patted him on the back.

    Bergdahl pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy and had faced up to life in prison. The judge had wide leeway because Bergdahl made no deal with prosecutors to limit his sentence.

    Prosecutors had sought stiff punishment because of wounds to service members who searched for Bergdahl after he disappeared in 2009.

    Bergdahl requested a pardon from President Obama, but that request was denied.

    After the request for pardon was denied and Trump took office, defense attorneys argued Bergdahl would not received a fair trial due to comments Trump had made criticizing Bergdahl prior to his election. The defense went so far as to request dismissal of the case. That too was denied.

    But, the presiding judge said he would use Trump’s comments as mitigation evidence. The NYT reported:

    “I will consider the president’s comments as mitigation evidence as I arrive at an appropriate sentence,” the judge, Col. Jeffery R. Nance of the Army, said during a hearing at Fort Bragg. The judge is expected to sentence Sergeant Bergdahl in the next few weeks.

    The judge rejected a request that he dismiss the case or cap the length of the sentence on the grounds that the president’s comments had precluded a fair hearing. The judge said he had not been influenced by the remarks and that the public’s confidence in the military justice system had not been undermined.

    “I’m admitting I made a horrible mistake,” the sergeant said on the witness stand. “It was never my intention for anyone to be hurt, and I never expected that to happen.”

    As a candidate, Mr. Trump repeatedly called Sergeant Bergdahl a traitor and suggested that he should be executed or returned to the Taliban. On Oct. 16, Mr. Trump seemed to endorse those earlier sentiments, declining to say anything new about the case but adding, “I think people have heard my comments in the past.”

    Trump’s comments on the campaign trail have been used by federal judges to put a halt to his immigration executive orders.

    Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye


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    Milhouse | November 4, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    I understand that Trump’s recent comments are a problem, but if I understand correctly the judge referred to the comments Trump made before he was his commander in chief. I don’t see how those could possibly be relevant, or why they should affect the sentence.

      Arminius in reply to Milhouse. | November 5, 2017 at 10:53 am

      Military judges are sensitive to idea that they or their juries are subject to what can be termed undo command influence. Excessively so, in my opinion. Like I’m going to change my vote should I be picked for a jury while DJT or BHO or GWB or WJC is preezy.

      Really? Is some off-hand comment REALLY a command? And how is the preezy going to know? Like it’s going to effect my career.

      But that’s the thinking. I don’t agree with it, and so Bergdahl walks. And I want to puke.

        Mac45 in reply to Arminius. | November 5, 2017 at 11:56 am

        Undo command influence might be a problem if one were going to sentence Bergdahl to a longer sentence than is usual. In that case, the jurist would most likely render a sentence in line with the usual sentence rendered. In the case of the charges which Bergdahl pled guilty to, that would be approximately 15 years. Now, if the judge wished to give Bergdahl credit for time served for the five years that he was in captivity, this would reduce the sentence to 1o years, and he could probably have reduced it to 7 years, with no complaints heard. But, he essentially issued a sentence which is largely reserved for convenience separations; reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay and dishonorable discharge. It was all done as a convenience to the service, to forestall an appeal that prison time was unfairly imposed due to remarks made by the President. Bergdahl is an embarrassment to the military and they just wanted to get rid of him.

        Milhouse in reply to Arminius. | November 5, 2017 at 9:13 pm

        If your commanding officer has expressed his wishes, that has to affect you. Your career is in his hands, after all. And yet if you let it prejudice the defendant’s right to due process the sentence you pronounce is invalid. So you have to bend over backwards to be sure you weren’t too harsh on him. That’s why Trump should have kept his stupid mouth shut about the case once he was commander in chief.

        What I don’t get is why the judge took into account his comments from last year. Those shouldn’t be relevant.

          Arminius in reply to Milhouse. | November 9, 2017 at 1:39 am

          You don’t know me, do you, Milhouse? And I honestly mean no disrespect. But here’s the thing. If I’m going to sign up to sell my life for a dollar a day, I think that ought to include lesser prices. Like my career.

          My commanding officer can pack sand. And you know what? Say what you want about the Navy’s promotion system, but I never worked for a commanding officer that didn’t know that.

      Arminius in reply to Milhouse. | November 5, 2017 at 11:02 am

      I’m sure you already knew this.

      Casey in reply to Milhouse. | November 7, 2017 at 2:00 am

      Alas, Trump doubled down after the election. Those comments are what the judge had in mind…

    Arminius | November 5, 2017 at 1:15 am

    I will hold out the hope, Milhouse.

    Milhouse | November 5, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    The headline still says he’s getting off scot-free, which is not true. It needs correcting. He’s getting off astonishingly lightly, shockingly lightly, but unless this is reversed on appeal he will be paying a scot.

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