Bergdahl, facing sentencing, says Taliban treated him better than Army

Bergdahl, facing sentencing, says Taliban treated him better than Army

Bergdahl, facing sentencing, says Taliban treated him better than Army

The military judge presiding over Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's desertion case paused the sentencing Monday to consider whether comments by President Donald J. Trump have unfairly influenced the case.

Col. Jeffrey Nance, the judge overseeing the case, denied the motion.

Morita said Bergdahl should be dishonorably discharged and sentenced to as much as life in prison.

In the motion last week, Bergdahl's attorneys argued that the brief comment from President Trump the day before shows the president still believes the disparaging comments he made on the campaign trail. But Nance had also assured Bergdahl's defense team that they could raise the issue again if Trump commented publicly on the case.

Trump has described Bergdahl as a "dirty rotten traitor" and called for the 31-year-old Idaho native to be executed by firing squad or thrown from a plane minus a parachute.

The court wrote in Boyce that "the appearance of unlawful command influence" exists "where an objective, disinterested observer, fully informed of all the facts and circumstances, would harbor a significant double about the fairness of the proceeding" - a calculus evident in Nance's own public comments on October 23. He entered a "naked plea", meaning he does not have an agreement about the sentencing terms with prosecutors.

That got him less upset than the "administrative duties" the Army assigned him while awaiting trial, he said.

Trump has been a vocal critic of Bergdahl and the Obama administration's decision to exchange five prisoners in Guantanamo Bay for his release in May 2014.

Former Army lawyer Eric Carpenter said the judge has to worry not only about whether Trump has directly influenced the case, but also what the public thinks under a military justice concept called apparent unlawful command influence.

Nance seemed unsatisfied with that explanation, calling Oshana's interpretation "strained".

Bergdahl pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, with the latter offense carrying a possible life sentence.

Bergdahl elected to be tried by a judge, not a panel of military officers, in August.

There are conflicting reports that six soldiers died searching for him.

Nance told the defense that, regardless of what Trump said, "I don't have any doubt whatsoever that I can be fair and impartial in the sentencing in this matter".

In 2015, an Army Sanity Board evaluation said Bergdahl had schizotypal personality disorder. "Here, it could be the guy I pass in the corridor who's going to sign the paper that sends me away for life".

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