Bergdahl Lawyer Rips Trump’s ‘Demagoguery’

     (CN) – If Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl can escape a possible court-martial for desertion, Republican billionaire Donald Trump might get the defamation lawsuit that he “so richly deserves,” the young soldier’s lawyer hinted on Thursday.
     Trump’s stump speech in on the campaign trail in New Hampshire fired up many people when he denounced the embattled sergeant as a “dirty, rotten traitor” on Wednesday, as the Wall Street Journal’s footage of the crowds shows.
     One of those fired-up men was Bergdahl’s attorney Eugene Fidell, who has taught military justice at Yale Law School.
     In a blistering statement, Fidell slammed Trump for apparently pining for his client’s execution.
     “This is the lowest kind of demagoguery,” Fidell wrote. “Mr. Trump’s comments are contemptible and un-American. They are a call for mob justice.”
     Fidell was referring to the part of Trump’s speech where the candidate wistfully spoke about how Bergdahl’s case would have been handled “in the old days.”
     Pantomiming his arms in a shotgun, Trump sputtered “Bing, bong,” to guffaws in the audience.
     Fidell said Trump’s words “directly threaten my client’s right to a fair trial.”
     Bergdahl has not yet stepped into a military courtroom for his conduct during the five years he spent a prisoner of the Taliban after he wandered off his combat post in Afghanistan’s Paktika province on June 30, 2009.
     Nearly five years later, the White House swapped him for five Taliban captives who had been held without charges at Guantanamo Bay in March 2014.
     Earlier this year, military prosecutors charged him with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, which carry a possible penalty of life imprisonment.
     Still, the charges are a far cry from treason, which Fidell noted carries a “unique stigma” as “the only crime described in the Constitution.”
     Trump also flubbed the facts when he repeated the rumor that “six, young beautiful people” in the Army died in the search for Bergdahl.
     “The Army’s prosecutors, who have the vast resources of the government at their disposal, have informed us that they will not be offering evidence that anyone died searching for my client,” Fidell said. “I call on the Secretary of the Army to put this false and damaging rumor to rest once and for all.”
     Secretary of Defense Ash Carter was traveling through Asia on Thursday and could not be reached for comment.
     An Army spokesman, however, told Courthouse News that the Department of Defense repeatedly emphasized there is “no linkage” between Bergdahl’s disappearance and these soldiers’ deaths.
     Indeed, those denials date back to at least June 5, 2014, when Carter’s predecessor Chuck Hagel told CNN that he “did not know of specific circumstances or details” supporting that allegation.
     Fidell said that his client is not “in a position, for the moment,” to sue Trump for his statements.
     “Mr. Trump must stop vilifying this young man, who suffered five years of brutal captivity at the hands of the Taliban and deserves to be judged on the basis of evidence rather than slander from someone who has never worn our country’s uniform,” he said.
     The Trump organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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