It’s bad enough that Donald Trump seemingly plans to “honor” Memorial Day by pardoning a slew of war criminals, it’s even worse that the decision came after secret lobbying efforts by Fox & Friends host Pete Hegseth.
The New York Times, which reported Trump’s upcoming plans last weekend, wrote that those likely to be pardoned include Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher of the Navy SEALs, Army Green Beret Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn and a Blackwater security contractor. The Times wrote about their crimes (my emphases added):
Navy SEALs who served with Chief Gallagher told authorities he indiscriminately shot at civilians, gunning down a young woman in a flowered hijab and an unarmed old man. They also said he stabbed a teenage captive, then bragged about it in text messages. His trial is set to start at the end of this month. If convicted, he faces life in prison. He has pleaded not guilty and denies all charges.
Major Golsteyn is charged with killing an Afghan man that he and other soldiers said had bomb-making materials. After an interrogation, the soldiers let the man go. Fearing that the man would return to making improvised explosives, which had already killed two Marines in the area, Major Golsteyn later said he killed the man.
Mr. Trump has singled both men out on Twitter, calling Major Golsteyn a “U.S. Military hero,” and praising Chief Gallagher for his service to the country.
Monday, The Daily Beast reported that Trump’s “patriotic” sentiments may have come straight from the mouth of Fox News’ Hegseth and his “months-long lobbying campaign.” We learned that while Hegseth repeatedly advocated on behalf of Gallagher and Goldsteyn on the air, including floating a pardon, Hegseth seems to have kept secret from viewers what he was up to behind the scenes:
According to three people with knowledge of the situation, Hegseth had multiple private conversations on the topic with President Trump over the past four-and-a-half months, with Gallagher’s case among those he pushed. The Fox & Friends host repeatedly told Trump that the process had been “very unfair” to Gallagher, two of these sources tell The Daily Beast. Hegseth pushed the president not only to publicly help Gallagher, but since at least March has specifically advised Trump to pardon him and the other men, the sources said.↓ Story continues below ↓
The lobbying appears to have been persuasive. The president went to bat for Gallagher on Twitter in March. And in recent weeks, Trump has at least once described the way Gallagher has been treated as “total bullshit,” according to a source with direct knowledge of the comment. With the possibility of a pardon to come, Hegseth’s behind-the-scenes work also underscores how heavily the president has relied on Fox News stars not just for support and messaging assistance but for actual counsel on policy.
Hegseth is not the only Trumper lobbying Trump for the pardons. According to The Daily Beast Congressmen Matt Gaetz and Duncan Hunter have also been part of the effort.
“Hegseth’s failure to reveal to the Fox News audience that he had a conflict of interest when positively reporting on a move that he himself had privately lobbied Trump to make would be a clear violation of journalistic ethics,” Mediaite noted.
So far, both Fox News and the White House have refused to comment to The Daily Beast.
Published with permission from News Hounds.