A delay in the trial for an Army major who admitted to killing a suspected Afghan bomb maker in 2010 has nothing to do with recent news reports that President Donad Trump is considering intervention in the case, according to the soldier's defense attorney. Golsteyn has said the killing was part of "routine combat actions," not premeditated murder.
Maj. Matt Golsteyn was scheduled to face a court-martial Dec. 2, but on Monday the judge postponed the proceeding until Feb. 19 for administrative reasons, rather than presidential pressure, his attorney Phillip Stackhouse said.
Stackhouse told Military.com that Monday's motions hearing at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, had been scheduled weeks before Fox News personality Pete Hegseth announced this week that Trump planned to get involved in Golsteyn's case.
Part of the reason for the postponement was so the prosecution could have more time to review documents the defense team has requested, including a "situation report" and an "intelligence report" from the time Golsteyn was deployed to Afghanistan, Stackhouse said.
Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, spokesman for U.S. Army Special Operations Command, said the prosecution team "recently received a plethora of data concerning the case, which it needs to administratively process in order to fulfill the defense's request."
Both parties are set to appear at a Dec. 9 hearing to determine whether the defense will be allowed to use a privately hired interpreter on an evidence-gathering trip to Afghanistan, rather than a government-provided interpreter, Stackhouse said.
Trump may also intervene in the cases of Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, Fox reported.
Lorance was convicted of murdering two men in Afghanistan and the attempted murder of a third in 2012. He is currently serving a 19-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Trump may restore Gallagher's rank to chief petty officer. He was found not guilty of killing an unarmed Islamic State fighter and Iraqi civilians, but guilty of posing for a photo with a war casualty.
On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper talked to Trump about all three cases, explaining the Pentagon's position that presidential intervention could create problems overseas since U.S. allies trust that the U.S. military justice system will hold troops accountable for crimes committed in the war zone, Jonathan Hoffman, the Pentagon's chief spokesman, told reporters Thursday.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at email@example.com.