Trump pardons US soldiers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan


(Photo: CGTN)

US President Donald Trump has granted clemency to two service members accused of war crimes in Afghanistan on Friday, ignoring Pentagon's advice to "stay out."

Trump has granted full pardons to Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Army Major Mathew Golsteyn, while also restoring the rank of Eddie R. Gallagher, who had been demoted from Navy SEAL for inappropriate actions in Iraq.

Earlier, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and other senior military leaders had told the president that a presidential pardon could "potentially damage the integrity of the military judicial system, the ability of military leaders to ensure good order and discipline, and the confidence of US allies and partners who host US troops," as CNN reported. 

Esper told reporters weeks ago that he and the president had had a "robust" conversation about the proposed pardons. "I offered – as I do in all matters – the facts, the options, my advice, the recommendations and we'll see how things play out," he said.

The White House on Friday said in a statement that the decision was in line with a long history of granting individuals a second chance. 

"The President, as Commander-in-Chief, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted," the statement read.