Trump congratulates Navy SEAL found innocent of murder but guilty of posing for photos with a dead prisoner

Donald Trump thumbs up

  • Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, who was found not guilty of murder on Tuesday, thanked President Trump Wednesday morning for intervening on his behalf.
  • The president tweeted a few hours later that he was glad he was able to help, a statement Gallagher’s attorney said was referring to the president’s order to ease the restrictions on Gallagher’s pre-trial confinement.
  • While Gallagher was found innocent of more serious crimes, he was, however, found guilty of posing for photos with a dead prisoner of war, an offense that will cost him his rank but almost certainly will not include jail time.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump congratulated Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher in a tweet Wednesday after the special operator was cleared of murder but found guilty of posing for photos with a dead prisoner of war.

Without any physical evidence, the prosecution built its case for murder around testimony and photos Gallagher took with a captured 17-year-old militant who died after being captured. One such photo was sent to a friend with the caption: “Good story behind this one. Got him with my hunting knife.”

A court martial jury cleared him of almost all charges Tuesday after the prosecution failed to make its case.

The SEAL faces a maximum penalty of only four months for the photo offense, a much lighter punishment than the life in prison sentence he was facing for more serious crimes, which included stabbing a captured teenage militant to death and shooting innocent civilians with a sniper rifle while he was deployed to Iraq in 2017.

Read more: US Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher found not guilty of war crimes in military trial

Any jail time would likely be written off as time served, as Gallagher spent the better part of a year in pre-trial confinement. The 40-year-old SEAL will, regardless of the final sentencing, be retiring at a lower rank.

Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, center, walks with his wife, Andrea Gallagher, left, and advisor, Bernard Kerik as they leave a military court on Naval Base San Diego, Tuesday, July 2, 2019, in San Diego. A military jury acquitted the decorated Navy SEAL Tuesday of murder in the killing of a wounded Islamic State captive under his care in Iraq in 2017. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

The SEAL thanked Trump in an interview on Fox & Friends Wednesday “for intervening when he did.” The president replied not long after.

“Congratulations to Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher, his wonderful wife Andrea, and his entire family. You have been through much together,” the president tweeted. “Glad I could help!”

While President Trump has been known to claim credit for things whether he was involved in the outcome or not, Gallagher’s defense attorney told Business Insider that the president’s decision to get involved ease Gallagher’s pre-trial confinement “made all the difference in the world.”

Gallagher was arrested in September of last year following allegations of intimidating witnesses and obstruction of justice, and he was detained at San Diego’s Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar. He was officially charged with premeditated murder, among other crimes, in January.

In late March, he was moved from the brig at Miramar to a facility at Balboa Naval Medical Center after a tweet by President Trump.

Read more: Trump says Navy SEAL accused of a brutal killing to be moved ‘to less restrictive confinement’

Tim Parlatore, the lead attorney on Gallagher’s defense team, explained to INSIDER that the president’s decision to ease the restrictions on Gallagher’s pre-trial confinement, which the defense repeatedly argued infringed on his constitutional rights, allowed him to better prepare for the trial with his defense team.

Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward

“By releasing him, where he should have never been in the first place, the president gave him the opportunity to meaningfully participate in his own defense,” Parlatore said. “No question the President’s decision made a big difference. We are very grateful.”

“I want to say I feel completely grateful and blessed to have the support that I had this whole time from the country and from all the troops,” Gallagher told Fox & Friends Wednesday morning.

“I believe they tried to frame me as a criminal from the get-go but, you know, we knew the truth the whole time. We knew I was innocent of these charges the whole time and I overcame it by having my strong wife with me the whole time and my legal team.”

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Why Bova’s Bakery makes the best cannoli in Boston