Trump Takes Credit For Navy SEAL’s Not Guilty Verdict. But What Did He Even Do?

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 02: Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher walks out of military court during lunch recess on Tuesday, July 2, 2019 in San Diego, CA.  Jury deliberations begin today for Chief Gallagher  who is on trial for war crimes for shooting of unarmed civilians in Iraq in 2017, including a school-age girl, and with killing a captured teenage ISIS fighter with a knife, among other crimes while deployed . (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images North America

The Navy SEAL who stood accused of murdering an Islamic State prisoner receiving medical care and shooting civilians was found not guilty of war crimes by a jury of soldiers on Tuesday.

And President Trump is taking partial responsibility for the acquittal.

In a tweet on Wednesday morning, President Trump congratulated the decorated Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher and his wife Andrea Gallagher, saying he’s “glad I could help!”

But it’s not entirely clear what President Trump may have done to help Gallagher’s case. The White House did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for clarification.

Trump may have been referencing a tweet he posted in March, when he announced that Gallagher would be moved to “less restrictive confinement” while awaiting trial, tagging his favorite cable news show “Fox and Friends” and Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) who has been outspoken in defense of Gallagher. Norman released a statement in response to news of the acquittal on Tuesday, saying he was “thrilled” the Gallaghers could “finally move forward with their lives.”

It is not clear what role Trump might have played in getting Gallagher moved to more comfortable quarters.

Trump has also publicly waffled on whether he intended to pardon Gallagher and other military personnel accused of war crimes. In May, Trump told reporter he was “looking at a lot of different pardons for a lot of different people,” before lamenting: “We teach them how to be great fighters and then when they fight sometimes they get really treated very unfairly.”

Gallagher was accused of murder and attempted murder after he allegedly fatally stabbed a 12-year-old ISIS prisoner who was being treated by U.S. medics and posed for a photo with the dead body. He was found guilty of posing for that picture on Tuesday, which holds a maximum sentence of four months in prison.

The jury will convene on Wednesday to discuss a sentence for the photo offense, but Gallagher’s lawyers believe he will be released since he’s already served four months in custody prior to the trial.

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