A Navy Judge Advocate General Corps officer serving as judge ruled that President Barack Obama exerted “unlawful command influence” in two pending cases, which severely limited the sentence he was able to mete out in each. Well played, Mr. President, well played.
Cmdr. Marcus Fulton ruled at pre-trial hearings in Hawaii this week that two defendants accused of sexual assault cannot be dishonorably discharged from the service if convicted because of remarks the president had made as commander-in-chief, according to Stars and Stripes.
The rulings were made Wednesday and Thursday by Cmdr. Fulton while presiding in U.S. vs. Johnson and U.S. vs. Fuentes and in reference to remarks the president had made May 7 that would unduly influence any potential sentencing for the defensants if found guilty.
Those May 7 remarks were:
“The bottom line is: I have no tolerance for this,” Obama said, according to documents submitted to the court.
“I expect consequences,” he continued. “So I don’t just want more speeches or awareness programs or training, but ultimately folks look the other way. If we find out somebody’s engaging in this, they’ve got to be held accountable — prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period.”
Cmdr. Fulton ruled that the president’s remarks raise “concern” as they “may indicate that a particular result is required of the military justice system.”
“A member of the public would not hear the President’s statement to be a simple admonition to hold members accountable,” Fulton wrote in his opinion. “A member of the public would draw the connection between the ‘dishonorable discharge’ required by the President and a punitive discharge approved by the convening authority.
“The strain on the system created by asking a convening authority to disregard [Obama’s] statement in this environment would be too much to sustain public confidence.”
The vast majority of military personnel convicted of sexual assault receive less than honorable discharges as a part of their sentence. As a result of the president’s comments, however, if either or both defendants in the cases now pending are found guilty — by jury or bench trial — bad conduct discharge or a dishonorable discharge.
Question: Why is it that the president has never commented on Benghazi because it’s “an ongoing investigation,” but he feels free to screw up everything else he likes? I just pray this ruling doesn’t gibe him any ideas about Nidal Hassan, the Fort Hood shooter.
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