According to a deep dive into Donald Trump’s controversial decision to meddle in military judicial affairs and intervene in the case of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, who was accused of war crimes, the New York Times states the president is in a power struggle with the Pentagon hierarchy.
According to the report, “The case of the president and a commando accused of war crimes offers a lesson in how Mr. Trump presides over the armed forces three years after taking office. While he boasts of supporting the military, he has come to distrust the generals and admirals who run it. Rather than accept information from his own government, he responds to television reports that grab his interest. Warned against crossing lines, he bulldozes past precedent and norms.”
The Times reports that, “The president’s handling of the case has distressed active-duty and retired officers and the civilians who work closely with them. Mr. Trump’s intervention, they said, emboldens war criminals and erodes the order of a professional military.”
According to Peter Feaver, a military specialist who served under former President George W. Bush, Trump is sticking his nose in internal Pentagon affairs best left to those who know what they are doing.
“He’s interfering with the chain of command, which is trying to police its own ranks,” he explained. “They’re trying to clean up their act and in the middle of it the president parachutes in — and not from information from his own commanders but from news talking heads who are clearly gaming the system.”
The Times notes, “As a result, the president finds himself more removed than ever from a disenchanted military command, adding the armed forces to the institutions under his authority that he has feuded with, along with the intelligence community, law enforcement agencies and diplomatic corps.”
Speaking with the Times, Chris Shumake, a former sniper who served with Gallagher, Trump has turned the administration of justice into a national spectacle that is hurting the military.
“It’s blown up bigger than any of us could have ever expected, and turned into a national clown show that put a bad light on the teams,” Mr. Shumakeexplained. “He’s trying to show he has the troops’ backs, but he’s saying he doesn’t trust any of the troops or their leaders to make the right decisions.”
You can read more details — including an examination of the crimes Gallagher was accused of committing — here.