Attorneys representing Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl presented a motion to a military judge on Monday morning arguing that President Donald Trump’s prejudicial comments have violated Bergdahl’s right to due process.
The pretrial hearing, which is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, is occurring at a courthouse on the Fort Bragg military base in North Carolina, according to Charlotte CBS affiliate WBTV.
Bergdahl, the beneficiary of a swap for five Guantanamo Bay-detained Taliban commanders arranged by the Obama administration, faces charges for endangering the lives of soldiers who searched for him after he allegedly deserted his post in Afghanistan in 2009.
The focus of the hearing is on Trump’s notably negative comments during his presidential campaign about Bergdahl.
Between June 2014 and August 2016, Stars and Stripes reports, Trump made over 60 unfavorable statements about Bergdahl. Now-President Trump called Bergdahl “a dirty, rotten traitor,” for example. Trump also proclaimed that Berdahl should either be executed for his alleged crimes or returned to his Taliban captors.
The comments are highly inflammatory, Bergdahl’s attorneys say, and will prevent Bergdahl from receiving a fair court-martial.
“There can be no doubt about what President Trump thinks of Sgt. Bergdahl,” Bergdahl’s lead attorney, Eugene Fidell, wrote in a court filing concerning the motion. “In a democratic society, it is a core premise that statements made by those who seek elective office must be taken seriously, especially when those statements are made repeatedly.”
Major Justin C. Oshana, the military’s lead prosecutor, asserts that Trump made the multitude of negative references concerning Bergdahl in order to criticize Barack Obama, who was president at the time of the statements.
“Any observer would be aware of Mr. Trump’s status at the time that he made the statements, and of the fact that he did not have any position within the government or the military,” Oshana wrote.
Bergdahl has been described by fellow army soldiers and official Pentagon reports as a deserter who may have been seeking to join the Taliban. He was held captive by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network in Afghanistan from June 2009 until his release in May 2014 as part of the 5-for-1 swap.
Col. Jeffery R. Nance, the Army judge in the court-martial proceedings, was not expected to make a ruling from the bench at the end of the pretrial hearing.
Trump’s last statement about Bergdahl occurred in August.
Bergdahl’s actual trial is slated to start in April.