The Cable

Bergdahl Lawyer to Trump: Put Up or Shut Up

At issue are comments Trump made at a casino in Las Vegas place in October 2015 about Bergdahl, who spent more than in Taliban captivity after walking off an outpost in eastern Afghanistan.

FT. BRAGG, NC - JANUARY 12:  U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Bowdrie "Bowe" Bergdahl, 29 of Hailey, Idaho, arrives at the Ft. Bragg military courthouse with his attorney Lt. Col. Franklin Rosenblatt for a pretrial hearing on January 12, 2016 in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.  Bergdhal is not allowed to wear four particular merit decorations, including his Purple Heart ribbon during the hearings and trial. Bergdahl faces charges of desertion and endangering troops stemming from his decision to leave his outpost in 2009, which landed him five years in Taliban captivity.  (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
FT. BRAGG, NC - JANUARY 12: U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Bowdrie "Bowe" Bergdahl, 29 of Hailey, Idaho, arrives at the Ft. Bragg military courthouse with his attorney Lt. Col. Franklin Rosenblatt for a pretrial hearing on January 12, 2016 in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Bergdhal is not allowed to wear four particular merit decorations, including his Purple Heart ribbon during the hearings and trial. Bergdahl faces charges of desertion and endangering troops stemming from his decision to leave his outpost in 2009, which landed him five years in Taliban captivity. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

A military lawyer representing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl wants to interview and potentially depose Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump over comments calling for the soldier’s execution — comments that the attorney says jeopardize the sergeant’s ability to receive a fair trial.

At issue are comments Trump made at a casino in Las Vegas place in October 2015 about Bergdahl, who spent five years in Taliban captivity after walking off an outpost in eastern Afghanistan. “We’re tired of Sgt. Bergdahl, who’s a traitor, a no-good traitor, who should have been executed,” Trump said at the event. “Thirty years ago, he would have been shot.”

A member of Bergdahl’s defense team has called Trump’s comment “the lowest kind of demagoguery” and “a call for mob justice.”

“I request to interview you as soon as possible about your comments about Sergeant Bergdahl during frequent appearances in front of large audiences in advance of his court-martial,” Lt. Col. Franklin Rosenblatt, a defense attorney for Bergdahl, wrote in the letter. “Based on your personal knowledge of matters that are relevant to Sergeant Bergdahl’s right to a fair trial this interview will help us determine whether to seek a deposition order under Rule of Court-Martial 702 or your personal appearance as a witness [at the court martial proceedings].”

Bergdahl is being charged in a military court for  desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, and faces a possible life sentence, although experts say that is highly unlikely. The Army officers who reviewed his case after his release recommended that he receive no jail time — because, in part, he was repeatedly tortured by the Taliban — but a higher-ranking officer overruled them and said Bergdahl should face charges.

Season two of the podcast Serial, a This American Life spin-off of unprecedented popularity, has focussed on Bergdahl’s story, helping to bring it back into the public eye in the run up to the court martial proceedings.

Photo credit: Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

Benjamin Soloway is an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @bsoloway

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