SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - President Trump restored the rank of Chief Eddie Gallagher Friday following a conviction for posing with a dead Islamic State captive in Iraq in 2017.
The San Diego Navy SEAL was demoted to Petty Officer First Class in July, following eight hours of deliberations by a military jury. He was acquitted of murder and other charges in the case.
Gallagher was at risk of losing up to $200,000 when he retired due to his lower rank.
Trump also granted clemency Friday to Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Matt Golsteyn in separate murder cases, ABC News reported.
The White House issued a statement which read in part:
"Before the prosecution of Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher, he had been selected for promotion to Senior Chief, awarded a Bronze Star with a “V” for valor, and assigned to an important position in the Navy as an instructor. Though ultimately acquitted on all of the most serious charges, he was stripped of these honors as he awaited his trial and its outcome. Given his service to our Nation, a promotion back to the rank and pay grade of Chief Petty Officer is justified."
"The President, as Commander-in-Chief, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted. For more than two hundred years, presidents have used their authority to offer second chances to deserving individuals, including those in uniform who have served our country. These actions are in keeping with this long history. As the President has stated, “when our soldiers have to fight for our country, I want to give them the confidence to fight.”
East San Diego County Congressman Duncan Hunter made a statement following the President’s executive action.
“For years, rampant prosecutorial misconduct, political correctness, and procedures that weigh the scales of justice against the accused have personified our military justice system. Self-serving military bureaucrats have felt empowered in instituting policies that have been damning to our warriors on the front lines. Today, thanks to the leadership of President Trump, these Pentagon armchair lawyers are being put on notice. The President recognizes that our combat warriors are to be supported in meeting the incredible responsibilities we place on them and I very much appreciate his advocacy for America’s warfighters.
While nothing can make up for the years Matt Golsteyn, Eddie Gallagher and Clint Lorance have lost because of our broken military justice system, the President’s action today takes a big step forward in righting past wrongs. These brave military families can now move forward rebuilding their lives and, in the meantime, I’ll continue working with my colleagues on the Justice for Warriors Caucus to ensure similar miscarriages of justice are both addressed and, hopefully, never happen again.”
Attorneys for Gallagher had asked for clemency, but the request was denied in October.
Associated Press contributed to this report.