Donald Trump has revealed he will review the case of a Green Beret who is facing murder charges after he confessed to killing an Afghan bomb maker that he suspected was responsible for the death of two of his Marines in 2010.
‘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,’ Trump tweeted on Sunday.
‘He could face the death penalty from our own government after he admitted to killing a Terrorist bomb maker while overseas.’
Golsteyn was charged with premeditated murder on Friday.
He has admitted to killing the bomb maker during his 2010 deployment to Afghanistan, where he was leading a team of Army Special Forces troops.
Donald Trump said he will review the case of a Green Beret facing murder charges after killing an Afghan bomb maker he suspected was responsible for the death of two of his Marines
Golsteyn was charged with murder for allegedly tracking down and killing a suspected Afghan bomb maker known as Rasoul on February 22, 2010
Golsteyn’s immediate commander determined that there was ‘sufficient evidence’ to warrant the ‘charges against him’, US Army Special Operations Command spokesman Lt Col Loren Bymer said in a statement.
The new charges will be reviewed to determine if the case should go to trial.
If Trump were to intervene, it may count as unlawful command influence that could result in Golsteyn’s case being thrown out.
But Pentagon spokesman Army Col Rob Manning told the BBC on Sunday that the charges against Golsteyn are a ‘law enforcement matter’.
‘The Department of Defense will respect the integrity of this process and provide updates when appropriate,’ Manning added.
Trump and other senior military and administration leaders have issued statements about military criminal cases in the past, triggering legal appeals and other complications as the courts work to insure impartial proceedings.
The president, however, does have broad authority to pardon criminal defendants.
Golsteyn admitted both during a 2011 CIA interview and in a 2016 Fox News segment that he killed the bomb maker, who he suspected was responsible for an explosion that killed Sgt Jeremy McQueary, 27, and 19-year-old Lance Cpl Larry Johnson.
McQueary’s parents spoke out in defense of Golsteyn after the charges were announced this week.
Golsteyn admitted both during a CIA interview and in a Fox News segment that he killed an Afghan bomb maker he suspected was responsible for the 2010 deaths of Sgt Jeremy McQueary, 27, (left) and 19-year-old Lance Cpl. Larry Johnson (right)
Debbie Kleinschmidt, McQueary’s mother, said she does not believe Golsteyn should face charges for killing the suspected Aghan bomb maker
‘I think that’s crazy,’ David Kleinschmidt, McQueary’s stepfather, told the New York Post. ‘I don’t understand why they are bringing this up again.’
‘We were in a war – and things happen in war. Personally, I think they should just drop [the charges]…I’m glad the guy is dead.’
‘Our rules that we have to follow are not the rules that the Taliban follows,’ added Deborah Kleinschmidt, McQueary’s mother.
‘So why punish our guy for something that the enemy is doing to us? I’m sure his family has to be stressed out beyond belief. And my heart goes out to them.’
Golsteyn has said he shot the bomb maker over concerns about the safety of American soldiers and for two Afghani men who defied the Taliban when they apprehended the suspect and turned him over to US forces.
‘If anything, Golsteyn may deserve a medal, not a murder rap,’ said David Kleinschmidt.
‘I’m glad he found the guy. I’m glad the guy’s dead because I don’t think he should have been in society.’
McQueary was killed in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, where US-led forces were fighting the Taliban
McQueary, of Nashville, Indiana, was survived by his wife and infant son (pictured together)
Johnson, a native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was remembered by family and friends as a proud Marine and a friendly youth with a close-knit family
McQueary and Johnson had been working with Golsteyn’s Green Beret team in the Taliban-controlled town of Marjah when they were killed in a bazaar explosion.
After the bombing, Golsteyn gathered intelligence and searched nearby homes for the terrorist.
The following day, a pair of Afghan men who were cooperating with the US turned over a suspect they had tied up who they claimed was responsible for the Marines’ deaths, but the man was freed almost immediately because of lack of evidence.
Shortly after the suspected bomb maker’s release from custody, Golsteyn allegedly tracked him down and killed him.
Days later, Golsteyn led about 80 troops into a four-hour firefight in Marjah, where he repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire as he helped evacuate a wounded Afghan soldier and directed air strikes against the Taliban.
He was awarded the Silver Star medal.
Golsteyn admitted both during a 2011 CIA interview and in a 2016 Fox News segment that he killed the bomb maker
The story of the Afghan bomb maker only came out after Golsteyn told the CIA about it during a polygraph test in November 2011, two months before he was promoted from captain to major. he is pictured here in Afghanistan in 2010
The story of the Afghan bomb maker only came out after Golsteyn told the CIA about it during a polygraph test in November 2011, two months before he was promoted from captain to major.
He revealed that he had killed the bomb maker just days before that medal-winning battle.
The Army Criminal Investigation Command, acting on information from the CIA, looked into the incident but could never find anyone to corroborate Golsteyn’s claim and couldn’t find any remains of the Afghan national.
Golsteyn was never charged with a war crime, and the 2015 board of inquiry didn’t attempt to establish whether he actually killed the Afghan.
Golsteyn (pictured alongside an Afghan soldier) was never charged with a war crime, and the 2015 board of inquiry didn’t attempt to establish whether he actually killed the Afghan
Golsteyn’s case was only reopened in 2016 after he appeared on a Fox News segment (pictured) and said he killed the Afghan
Instead, the panel considered whether he should be retained as an Army officer based on a reprimand in his personnel record.
The board determined that Golsteyn was guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and he was discharged.
It also revoked Golsteyn’s Special Forces designation and the Silver Star.
Two years later, Golsteyn appeared on a Fox News special called ‘How We Fight’ and told host Brett Baier that he killed the Afghan because letting him go would have led to additional problems.
‘You realize quickly that you make things worse. It is an inevitable outcome that people who are cooperating with coalition forces, when identified, will suffer some terrible torture or be killed,’ he said.
Golsteyn (pictured with his wife) blamed the Fox News interview for his new legal troubles but stood by his comments to Baier
Golsteyn’s interview on Fox News breathed new life into the case and reportedly prompted the United States Criminal Investigation Command to reopen the investigation.
Speaking to NBC News on Thursday, Golsteyn blamed the Fox News interview for his new legal troubles but stood by his comments to Baier.
He also insisted that he did nothing wrong on that day in February 2010 in Afghanistan.
‘I have had commanders look me in the face and tell me I have done nothing wrong,’ Golsteyn said.