On Sunday, President Donald Trump tweeted that he will review the case of Special Forces Major Matt Golsteyn, who is accused of killing a suspected Taliban bomb maker while serving overseas. Business Insider reports that the president made his announcement after a segment about the Green Beret’s murder charge appeared on Fox and Friends.
Major Golsteyn is accused of shooting an Afghan man in what are described as “premeditated” circumstances in 2010. The case has been reviewed on and off over the past several years, beginning in 2011, when then-Captain Golsteyn took a lie detector test as part of a job interview requirement for the CIA and admitted to killing a man he believed was making bombs. This led to an investigation and, in 2014, the major was let off with a reprimand citing lack of evidence for a full charge.
However, a few years later, the situation was brought back into the spotlight when he spoke about the killing in a Fox News report titled “How We Fight.” In the segment, he said that he killed the man because he didn’t want him to be released only to possibly harm Afghan informants helping U.S. troops.
On Friday, Golsteyn was charged with premeditated murder after his commander said there was sufficient evidence to warrant charges, which could result in the death penalty if Golsteyn is convicted.
On Sunday morning, Fox and Friends aired a segment about the case, describing the major as a war hero who had become an accused war criminal. A short while later, Trump tweeted about the case, tagging co-host Pete Hegseth and Fox News echoing the news channel’s language calling Golsteyn a hero.
“At the request of many, I will be reviewing the case of a ‘U.S. Military hero,’ Major Matt Golsteyn, who is charged with murder,” he wrote. “He could face the death penalty from our own government after he admitted to killing a Terrorist bomb maker while overseas.”
Trump didn’t elaborate on what he meant when he posted the tweet, but his message is problematic because the commander-in-chief normally doesn’t get involved in military cases in order to avoid influencing the process. By weighing in, the president could cause the case to be thrown out of court.
Pentagon officials say they intend to follow the standard legal process, calling the case against Golsteyn a “law enforcement matter.”
“The allegations against Major Matt Golsteyn are a law enforcement matter,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said, according to CNN. “The Department of Defense will respect the integrity of this process and provide updates when appropriate.”
Golsteyn’s lawyer, Phil Stackhouse, has called the military veteran a humble leader who has been recognized for his service and pledged to defend him against the accusations.
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