House Minority Whip Steve Scalise on Sunday voiced his support for President Donald Trump’s pardons of two Army officers who were accused of war crimes, arguing the move boosts morale in the military.
"I've heard from our men and women in uniform for years that they felt that they were sidelined because they needed a team of attorneys before they could return fire in the battlefield," the Louisiana Republican said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I think our troops' morale is much higher — troops that I've heard from — because this has been a concern."
Trump pardoned Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Mathew Golsteyn despite concerns from Pentagon officials that the pardons could undermine the military justice system. The president also restored Navy SEAL Ed Gallagher’s rank to chief petty officer.
Lorance was found guilty of second-degree murder for ordering his soldiers to fire on three men in Afghanistan in 2008.
Golsteyn, a Green Beret team leader, was accused of killing a suspected terrorist bomb-maker in Afghanistan in 2010.
Gallagher, who was acquitted of murdering a teenage prisoner of war in Iraq, was demoted after being found guilty of posing for photographs with the body.
Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), who appeared later in the show, vehemently opposed Trump’s actions, calling the pardons an “ugly moment in our history.”
"What makes me saddest about this is, despite what Steve Scalise said, this is not a question of our soldiers being constrained by lawyers on the battlefield,” Himes said.
“We seek justice, and that's what we have done," Himes added. "The president has reversed that. That sends a terrible signal to those good people in the military.”
CORRECTION: This report has been updated to reflect that Maj. Mathew Golsteyn is no longer facing court-martial.