Trump brought Army Maj. Mathew Golsteyn and Army Lt. Clint Lorance, who he pardoned over cases involving war crimes, on stage at the Florida GOP’s annual Statesman’s Dinner, the newspaper reported citing six people who attended the event.
Golsteyn, a former Green Beret, was charged with murder in the death of an Afghan man during a deployment in the country in 2010. He had pleaded not guilty in the case.
Lorance was found guilty in 2013 or murder in the second degree for ordering his soldiers to fire on three unarmed Afghan men on a motorcycle. He has served six years in the 19-year prison sentence he received for the charge.
Pentagon leaders reportedly had privately opposed the controversial pardons.
Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyICE emerges as stumbling block in government funding talks Republicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members Lawmakers bypass embattled Mulvaney in spending talks MORE (D-Vt.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Energy: Pelosi vows bold action to counter ‘existential’ climate threat | Trump jokes new light bulbs don’t make him look as good | ‘Forever chemicals’ measure pulled from defense bill Pelosi warns of ‘existential’ climate threat, vows bold action Republicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members MORE (D-R.I.) sent a letter last month to the Department of Justice asking for information on if the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney was involved in the decision. The senators asked for answers no later than Dec. 13.
Critics of the pardon argued that Trump’s move could send a message to troops that they don’t need to follow rules of engagement when fighting abroad.
The Miami Herald reported that the 1,000 attendees were asked to check their cell phones into individual locked cases and reporters were not allowed to attend the event which raised $3.5 million for the party.
The attendees that spoke to the Herald said Trump was a “total comedian” at the event, doing impressions of Democrats including House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPence: It’s not a “foregone conclusion” that lawmakers impeach Trump Democrats open door to repealing ObamaCare tax in spending talks Sunday talk shows: Lawmakers gear up ahead of Monday’s House Judiciary hearing MORE (D-Calif.), and said parts of his speech were similar to his tweets calling the impeachment inquiry “a sham” and a “witch hunt”
Trump also praised the Florida GOP for their work in the state, the Herald reported.
The same night Trump spoke to the Israeli American Council in Hollywood, Fla.