Don Brown: Trump’s pardon of Army Lt. Clint Lorance on wrongful war crime conviction serves justice

Army Lt. Clint Lorance, who has spent the past six years in the military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, is a free man today. He was released late Friday after getting a life-changing phone call from President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and receiving a full pardon for his wrongful second-second degree murder conviction.

Brought to a telephone when the White House called the prison, Lorance heard directly from the president that he was receiving the full pardon. This was welcome news for the decorated Army officer serving a 19-year prison sentence.

ARMY 1ST LT. CLINT LORANCE RELEASED FROM LEAVENWORTH PRISON AFTER TRUMP GRANTS CLEMENCY

Lorance and family members planned to drive to his home in the small town of Celeste, Texas on Saturday, where his supporters will hold a homecoming celebration.

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As a member of Lorance’s legal defense team and the author of a book about the injustice suffered by this brave American who risked his life defending our country in Afghanistan, I want to thank President Trump on behalf of Lorance, his family and his many supporters.

I felt a huge sense of relief and gratitude when the White House called me Friday asking how to set up the prison call with Lorance. His aunt was able to speak with Lorance afterward and fill me in on the conversation.

We on the Lorance legal team stated in his defense that he did nothing wrong, despite his unjust conviction. He ordered his men to shoot three Taliban insurgents who were charging at his platoon on a motorcycle in Afghanistan on July 2, 2012.

The Taliban did not heed orders to stop. Lorance could have let them men pass and possibly kill some of his own American soldiers by blowing themselves up with a suicide bomb (as has happened in other cases) or by gunfire. He chose to stop them and save American lives.

Sending a soldier to prison for defending his troops in a war zone should have never happened and should never happen again.

The president told our friend Pete Hegseth of Fox News that freedom was coming for Lorance, and Hegseth reported this exclusively Nov. 4.

TRUMP TO TAKE IMMINENT ACTION ON CASES OF THREE MILITARY MEMBERS ACCUSED OF WAR CRIMES

In addition to granting a pardon to Lorance, the president ordered a murder charge dropped against Army Maj. Matt Golsteyn, a former Green Beret. President Trump also restored Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher to the rank of chief petty officer after he was docked a pay grade following his conviction for posing for a photo with a dead ISIS fighter, the White House announced.

A White House said that as commander in chief the president is “ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted.”

We had hoped President Trump would grant freedom to Lorance on Monday to mark Veterans Day. I and others were at Leavenworth anticipating the good news. Of course, the president is a busy man, so we are enormously grateful that there was not a long delay.

Newly released Army Lt. Clint Lorance is reunited with family members after being pardoned by President Trump.

Newly released Army Lt. Clint Lorance is reunited with family members after being pardoned by President Trump.

Waiting in dimly lit Leavenworth hotel rooms, drinking coffee and fighting frigid temperatures outside, Lorance’s family and legal team stayed holed up after Monday in the town, checking the president’s Twitter feed, and praying for signs of justice for Lorance.

A few more long and emotional days passed. But glorious freedom soon came. We knew it. We kept the faith.

The call from the president and vice president to Lorance was a surreal moment. Our nation’s top leaders thanked him for his service to our country, and chatted for a few moments. And then came the president’s announcement. Clint’s Lorance’s long nightmare was over.

Now Lorance is again breathing the air of freedom – the same freedom for which he would have laid down his life to protect his countrymen. He will be able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with his beloved family. In the flash of a phone call, justice had been served, in the most improbable way.

This pivotal moment in which justice finally triumphed would not have occurred without the help of the many members of Lorance’s legal team and supporters The problem with thank you lists in a case like this, with so many to thank, is that one risks forgetting some of the great Americans who played such a pivotal role. There are so many to thank.

The most thanks, of course, go to President Trump, who rightly bucked the stubborn, deep state mentality of his own Defense Department, which resisted doing the right thing by freeing the lieutenant.

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In granting freedom to Lt. Lorance and with his actions benefiting Matt Golsteyn and Eddie Gallagher, the president sent a powerful message to every active duty service member and veteran who ever wore the uniform: he has their backs.

Let us pray to God that our forces never again have to engage in battle. But if they do, may the story of Clint Lorance underscore a newfound American determination that our men and women in uniform will never again be prosecuted for killing the enemy.

And thanks to President Trump for having the backbone to send that message, even in the face of inexcusable opposition by his own defense secretary.

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As the president said in his inaugural address: “From this day forward, it’s going to be America first.”

God is good. God bless America.

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