A new report by The New York Times reveals that President Donald Trump just made expedited requests this week for paperwork that would allow him to pardon U.S. war criminals.
According to two anonymous U.S. military officials, the Justice Department put a rush on the requests for Memorial Day weekend, a far cry from the months that it typically takes to put together pardon files, per CNN.
The New York Times reports that one request is for Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher of the Navy SEALs, who Trump has previously been sympathetic to. Although Gallagher is accused of shooting unarmed civilians and killing an enemy captive, the president believes that he should receive "less restrictive confinement" until he is put to trial.
"In honor of his past service to our Country, Navy Seal #EddieGallagher will soon be moved to less restrictive confinement while he awaits his day in court. Process should move quickly! @foxandfriends @RepRalphNorman."Gallagher's lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, was reportedly surprised by the plan to pardon his client.
"We want the opportunity to exonerate my client. At the same time, there is always a risk in going to trial. My primary objective is to get Chief Gallagher home to his family. To that end, Chief Gallagher would welcome any involvement by the president."Like Gallagher, the others reported to be included in the pardon list were accused or convicted of harming or murdered unarmed civilians. But the U.S. officials — who spoke anonymously — claim that they did not see the full list, which means that more pardons could be in the works.
Margaret Love, who acted as a pardon attorney during both the first Bush and Clinton administrations, claims that the order of operations for the requests — from the White House to the Justice Department — is not common practice. In addition, the Justice Department requested files on men like Gallagher, and Love claims that this is a sign that Attorney General William Barr is attempting to regain control of the process that Trump appears to have hijacked.
But even outside of the process, Love said that the profiles of the men Trump is seeking to pardon differ from the norm. Although pardons are typically used to indicate that punishment was too extreme, such as nonviolent drugs cases, she says that Trump's current pattern sands "a far darker message."
Most recently, Trump pardoned Michael Behenna, a former U.S. Army first lieutenant, who was convicted of murdering Ali Mansur Mohamed in 2008 during the Iraq war.