Army Denies Request to Reinstate Soldier Pardoned by Trump in Murder Case

Maj. Mathew Golsteyn last year before he was pardoned by President Trump.
Credit…Andrew Craft/The Fayetteville Observer, via Associated Press

An Army major charged with murder but pardoned in November by President Trump learned on Thursday that the Army has rejected his request to be restored to membership in the elite Green Berets, setting up a potential clash between senior Army leaders and the commander in chief.

Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn received a letter on Thursday informing him that his request that the Army restore his Special Forces tab, which denotes membership in the elite force, had been denied in early December, according to his lawyer, Phillip Stackhouse.

Mr. Stackhouse said in an interview that the Army’s decision appeared to be a direct rebuke of Mr. Trump’s wishes, and that he would appeal the decision directly to the White House.

“I don’t think the president could have been more clear in what he wants,” Mr. Stackhouse said.

Major Golsteyn was charged in 2018 with murder over the killing of an Afghan man during a deployment to Marja, Afghanistan, in 2010. Major Golsteyn described the man as a suspected Taliban bomb maker and twice admitted killing him, but he maintained that the killing was part of a legal ambush set up to save lives. He had been scheduled to go on trial last month.

After the initial investigation into the killing began, the Army stripped him of his Special Forces tab, and rescinded a medal that the Army had approved for him but had not yet presented, the Distinguished Service Cross.

But Major Golsteyn never went on trial because, in November, he was granted clemency by Mr. Trump, along with another Army officer, Lt. Clint Lorance, who was convicted of second-degree murder in 2013, and Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was acquitted of murder last summer but convicted of a lesser war crime.

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SOURCE: New York Times, Dave Philipps