Army rejects Bowe Bergdahl's appeal accusing Trump of unlawful command influence

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Bowe Bergdahl

(Associated Press/The Fayetteville Observer/Andrew Craft)

An Army appeals court has rejected Bowe Bergdahl's claim that President Trump's public description of him as "a no-good traitor who should have been executed" and other comments on the disgraced soldier's case were substantial enough to alter the course of his court-martial proceedings despite evidence of unlawful command influence (UCI).


In a 2-1 ruling, a trio of Army Court of Criminal Appeals judges determined that while Trump's frequent invocation of Bergdahl in the White House rose to the level of "some evidence" of UCI, the "cumulative effect could not reasonably be perceived by the disinterested member of the public as improper command influence or otherwise indicative of an unfair proceeding."

The judges heard arguments from Bergdahl's attorneys earlier this month that Trump's comments about the case as president constituted "apparent" UCI, evidence of which has led judges in several recent cases to overturn convictions on appeal, by making it it impossible for the soldier to "get a review by a convening authority liberated from the toxic comments of the president of the United States."

During Bergdahl's original court-martial proceedings in February 2017, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance ruled that Trump's statements on the campaign trail (and, therefore, a private citizen) didn't rise to the level of UCI, but he did delay Bergdahl's sentencing so he could carefully weigh the issue after Trump referred back to his previous comments after becoming president.

"I don't have any doubt whatsoever that I can be fair and impartial in the sentencing in this matter," Nance told the AP. "[But] the member of the public that we are interested in maintaining confidence in the military justice system... is going to be influenced by context."

Bergdahl was was sentenced in 2017 to reduction in rank from sergeant to private, forfeiture of $10,000 in pay and a dishonorable discharge. On Twitter, Trump called the sentence"a complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military."

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The Saturday night attack came as the Taliban and the United States try to negotiate an agreement on the withdrawal of U.S. forces in exchange for a Taliban commitment on security and peace talks with Afghanistan's U.S.-backed government.

Islamic State fighters, who first appeared in Afghanistan in 2014 and have since made inroads in the east and north, are not involved in the talks. They are battling government and U.S.-led international forces and the Taliban.

The group, in a statement on the messaging website Telegram, claimed responsibility for the attack at a west Kabul wedding hall in a minority Shi'ite neighborhood, saying its bomber had been able to infiltrate the reception and detonate his explosives in the crowd of "infidels".

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U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Brian Kimball

Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

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In their first visit to the United States since 2008, the Royal Air Force "Red Arrows" will perform an aerial demonstration next week over the Hudson River, according to an Air Force news release. F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels demonstration teams will also be part of the show.

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The couple flew the flag of Puerto Rico on the garage of their Kissimmee home. It ticked off the homeowners association.

Someone from the Rolling Hills Estates Homeowners Association left a letter at their home, citing a "flag violation" and warning: "Please rectify the listed violation or you may incur a fine."

Frances Santiago, 38, an Army veteran, demanded to know why.

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Todd Rosenberg/AP

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The waiver for 2nd Lt. Brett Toth was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, who said that Toth signed a three-year deal with the Eagles. Toth graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 2018.

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