President Donald Trump's disparaging campaign remarks about accused Army deserter Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are "disturbing", the military judge overseeing the soldier's court-martial said Monday. The defense motion, filed shortly after Trump was sworn in as president, cites more than 40 instances of Trump's criticism at public appearances and media interviews through August 2016.
"President Trump made a decision to use Sgt. Bergdahl as a tool in his quest for the White House", said Bergdahl's lead lawyer, Eugene Fidell, Stars and Stripes reported.
Although Mr. Trump repeatedly said Bergdahl should face stiff punishment, even suggesting he be thrown out of a plane, prosecutors contend any reasonable observer would understand Mr. Trump's comments amounted to campaign rhetoric and should not be taken literally.
Bergdahl is scheduled for trial in April.
They argue Mr. Trump's use of the term "traitor" was not meant in the legal sense, but in a conversational way.
The Latest on a pretrial hearing for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, charged with endangering the lives of soldiers who searched for him after he left his post in Afghanistan in 2009.
The Associated Press reported that Bergdahl "appeared to grit his teeth while defense attorneys played a video exhibit of President Donald Trump's scathing condemnation of the soldier", during Monday's hearing.
In 2014, then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told Congress that "in all of our reports, I have seen no evidence that directly links any American combat death to the rescue or finding or search of Sgt. Bergdahl", The New York Times reported.
Rinckey said that while the judge is not likely to dismiss the charges, Bergdahl's contention that a jury can not avoid knowing about and being influenced by Trump's condemnation may result in some time - perhaps days, or a month, for instance - deducted off his sentence if he is convicted.
"The prosecution is in a tough spot". "No one in the administration has disavowed those comments, so the comments still have life".
He was held captive by the Taliban and its allies for five years.