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Bowe Bergdahl’s lawyers want charges dropped after ‘meddling’ by John McCain

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The legal team for U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl on Monday asked to have the charges against the former prisoner of war dismissed, arguing comments made by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain violated his due process rights.

Bergdahl, 30, is facing a court-martial with a potential life sentence on charges of desertion and endangerment of U.S. troops after he walked away from his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and became a Taliban prisoner for five years.

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Defense attorneys argued in a motion filed on Monday that comments made by McCain and the committee’s general counsel, Steve Barney, have unduly influenced his case. The filing quotes McCain as saying last October: “If it comes out that (Bergdahl has no punishment, we’re going to have a hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee.”

“I am not prejudging, OK, but it is well known that in the searches for Bergdahl, after – we know now – he deserted, there are allegations that some American soldiers were killed or wounded, or at the very least put their lives in danger, searching for what is clearly a deserter,” McCain added.

The statements, among others, defense attorneys argued, undermine the independence of the military proceeding and violate Bergdahl’s rights to due process. The motion said if the charges are not dropped and Bergdahl is convicted, he should at least face no punishment.

“It is not rocket science to see what was wrong with Sen. McCain’s comment,” the motion says. “His comments – as the Army certainly knows – constituted impermissible meddling in a pending criminal case and an abuse of his authority as chairman of a powerful Senate committee.”

Representatives for McCain’s office could not be immediately reached for comment, nor could a spokesman for the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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U.S. military prosecutors have said Bergdahl sneaked off his post, resulting in a 45-day search that put soldiers’ lives at risk and diverted attention from the fight against the Taliban.

Bergdahl was freed in a prisoner swap in May 2014 involving the release of five Taliban leaders held by the United States. The deal drew heavy criticism from Republicans.

The court-martial is scheduled to begin on Feb. 6, 2017.

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(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)


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Watergate’s John Dean thinks Trump wrote part of his legal team’s brief — because it’s so terrible

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Former White House counsel for Richard Nixon, John Dean, explained that the legal brief out of President Donald Trump's White House was so bad that it had to have been dictated by Trump himself.

Saturday evening, Trump's legal team, chaired by Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow and White House counsel Pat Cipollone, filed their own form of a legal brief that responded to the case filed by Democrats ahead of Tuesday's impeachment trial.

The document called the proceedings “constitutionally invalid” and claims House Democrats are staging a “dangerous attack” with a “brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election.”

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Prince Harry posted a video from an HIV/AIDS fundraiser his mother once supported, where he explained his methodology for leaving his profile role as a royal.

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‘You cannot expect anything but fascism’: Pedagogy theorist on how Trump ‘legitimated a culture of lying, cruelty and a collapse of social responsibility’

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The impeachment of Donald Trump appears to be a crisis without a history, at least a history that illuminates, not just comparisons with other presidential impeachments, but a history that provides historical lessons regarding its relationship to a previous age of tyranny that ushered in horrors associated with a fascist politics in the 1930s.  In the age of Trump, history is now used to divert and elude the most serious questions to be raised about the impeachment crisis. The legacy of earlier presidential impeachments, which include Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, provide a comparative historical context for analysis and criticism. And while Trump’s impeachment is often defined as a more serious constitutional crisis given his attempt to use the power of the presidency to advance his personal political agenda, it is a crisis that willfully ignores the conditions that gave rise to Trump’s presidency along with its recurring pattern of authoritarian behavior, policies, and practices.  One result is that the impeachment process with its abundance of political theater and insipid media coverage treats Trump’s crimes as the endpoint of an abuse of power and an illegal act, rather than as a political action that is symptomatic of a long legacy of conditions that have led to the United States’ slide into the abyss of authoritarianism.

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