Bowe Bergdahl will face judge, not jury in desertion case
By Brian Seay
Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl outside Fort Bragg in January 2016. (Photo: Ted Richardson/Associated Press)
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who faces charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, will be tried by a judge instead of a military jury.
Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban in 2009 after he left his post, faces life in prison if convicted. His trial will be held at Fort Bragg in late October, according to the Associated Press.
Defense attorneys have questioned whether Bergdahl could get a fair jury trial after critical comments made by President Trump on the campaign trail. At a town hall in New Hampshire in August 2015, Trump called Bergdahl a “dirty rotten traitor.”
“Ya know, in the old days, bing, bong,” he said, pantomiming pulling the trigger on a rifle as if a member of a firing squad. Trump was criticizing a deal approved by President Obama, in which Bergdahl was swapped for five Guantanamo Bay prisoners. Bergdahl’s attorneys cited more than 40 instances in which Trump criticized their client in public appearances.
In February, a judge called the comments “disturbing and disappointing,” saying they carried a “problematic potential” for Bergdahl’s case. Still, the judge ruled the comments hadn’t prejudiced the Army’s case