One day after pleading guilty to deserting his post in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has sought dismissal of the charges against him on grounds that the case was tainted by President Donald Trump's calling him a "traitor."
Bergdahl faces a sentence of possible life in prison after pleading guilty on October 16 to desertion of his post in Afghanistan's Paktia province in a 2009 incident that led to his capture by the Taliban.
After five years in captivity, Bergdahl was released in a controversial prisoner exchange with the Taliban in 2014. Trump while campaigning last year repeatedly called Bergdahl a "traitor" and said the soldier should be executed for his actions.
Trump on October 16 said he wouldn't comment on Bergdahl's case, but added, "I think people have heard my comments in the past."
Bergdahl's lawyers cited Trump's latest remarks in asking a military court in North Carolina on October 17 to dismiss the case against Bergdahl, arguing that they make it impossible for the soldier to get a fair sentence from the court.
Bergdahl's lawyers said Trump's remarks are especially concerning now that he is commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces.
"President Trump stands at the pinnacle of an unbroken chain of command that includes key participants in the remaining critical steps of the case," the lawyers wrote.
The judge overseeing the case, Army Colonel Jeffery Nance, previously called Trump's campaign statements about Bergdahl "disturbing and disappointing."
But in a February ruling, he said they didn't amount to unlawful influence on the case because they were made when Trump was a private citizen running for office.