Navy prosecutors still sifting through the wreckage of their disastrous handling of the SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher case will get another bite at the apple.
Navy SEAL Lt. Jacob “Jake” Portier, Gallagher’s former commanding officer, is set to go on trial starting Sept. 3, said Portier’s attorney Jeremiah Sullivan.
“You will see many of the same witnesses from the Gallagher trial testify at Lt. Portier’s trial,” Sullivan told Task & Purpose on Friday. “It will be a second acquittal at great expense to the taxpayers.”
A Navy spokesman declined to comment on Friday about Portier’s upcoming trial.
Portier is charged with dereliction of duty, failure to obey a lawful order, making false official statements, and conduct unbecoming an officer for allegedly trying to cover up for Gallagher.
Gallagher was recently found not guilty of murder after being accused of killing a wounded ISIS fighter. He was found guilty of posing for a picture with the fighter’s corpse and sentenced to be reduced one rank and time served.
“If the witnesses testify the same as they did in Gallagher, the evidence doesn’t support any convictions for Lt. Portier,” Sullivan said on Friday. “The evidence is on the record. We have sworn testimony now that will exonerate Lt. Portier – and we haven’t even called our own witnesses.”
After Gallagher was acquitted of murder and other charges, President Donald Trump tweeted his congratulations to the Navy SEAL, adding, “Glad I could help!”
The president tweeted in March that Gallagher should be moved to a “less restrictive environment,” prompting Gallagher’s release from the brig after eight months of pretrial confinement.Three members of Gallagher’s legal time also had close ties to Trump, including the president’s personal attorney Marc Mukasey and former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik.
The Navy’s case was at risk of falling apart even before the trial began when a military judge removed the lead prosecutor in the Gallagher caseremoved the lead prosecutor in the Gallagher case for sending spyware to Portier and Gallagher’s defense attorneys as well as Navy Times editor Carl Prine without a warrant.
The Gallagher prosecution isn’t the Navy’s only notable failure recently. In April, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer dismissed all charges against Cmdr. Bryce Benson, former skipper of the destroyer USS Fitzgerald, and crew member Lt. Natalie Combs in connection with June 2017 collision that killed seven sailors.