The sentencing of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been delayed until Wednesday, after the defense filed a last-minute motion over comments President Donald Trump has made in the past as a candidate, and last week as President.
Col. Jeffrey Nance, the military court judge at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, said he wanted more time to review the defense’s motion, and recessed the court until Wednesday, it has been reported.
Nance also gave Bergdahl an opportunity to withdraw his guilty plea, but Bergdahl refused, according to NBC.
The Washington Post reported:
The defense filed a last-minute motion saying that comments Trump made after Bergdahl pleaded guilty show that he can’t get a fair sentence with the Republican as commander in chief. Trump harshly criticized Bergdahl on the campaign trail, and recently told reporters that he thinks the public is aware of what he said. Prosecutors argue the most recent comments didn’t reaffirm what he said before.
Bergdahl, now 31, last week pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy after deserting his post in Afghanistan and being held captive by the Taliban for five years. He was expected to be sentenced today, and faces charges desertion and endangering fellow soldiers, and misbehavior before the enemy.
He could face a life sentence for the misbehavior charge, and up to five years for the desertion charge.
A guilty plea meant Bergdahl would not face a trial. He had already decided to let a judge – and not a military jury – render a verdict. It is not clear if Bergdahl’s lawyers have a plea agreement in place to limit his punishment.
After Bergdahl left his post in 2009, he was held as a Taliban prisoner until 2014, when the Obama Administration was able to get him back to the United States through a prisoner swap. Bergdahl was released in exchange for five Guantanamo Bay detainees.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said Bergdahl was “a dirty rotten traitor” for leaving his post and endangering the lives of others, and that he should “face the death penalty.” Five soldiers died while looking for Bergdahl.
A military judge in February ruled against dropping charges against Bergdahl after Bergdahl’s lawyers argued that comments made by Trump prior to the 2016 election violated their client’s due process rights.
NBC also reported Monday:
The judge’s move came after Bergdahl’s defense team argued during the 59-minute hearing that the only way to ensure a fair sentence is to take any possible jail time off the table.
To buttress their argument, they played videos of Trump lambasting their client on the campaign trail in Dec. 14, 2015, and then again as president last Tuesday.
Trump has called Bergdahl a “dirty rotten traitor” and called for the 31-year-old Idaho native to be executed by firing squad or thrown from a plane minus a parachute.