Attorneys for accused Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl took their third shot Thursday at getting his case tossed, once again arguing that President Trump blew their client’s chance of a fair trial when he called the sergeant and former Taliban captive “a dirty, rotten traitor.”
In a 50-page appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, Bergdahl’s legal team argued that the “unprecedented circumstances” of then-candidate Trump calling Bergdahl a traitor and suggesting he should be executed create an “unlawful command influence.”
The term refers to a military legal concept in which someone in authority attempts to influence military judicial proceedings.
“They cannot be scrubbed from the record as if he had simply put on a clean shirt for the Inauguration.”
A lower court judge rejected the argument on the grounds that Trump was a private citizen when he spoke out. The court noted Trump has made no statements about Bergdahl since being elected in November.
In the latest filing, Bergdahl’s attorneys argued that “by not repudiating his earlier statements, President Trump brought them with him" into the White House.
“They cannot be scrubbed from the record as if he had simply put on a clean shirt for the Inauguration,” Bergdahl's team wrote.
Bergdahl’s attorney, Eugene Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School, told Fox News on Friday that “public confidence in the administration of justice” is at stake.
“I think [Trump] was speaking with reckless indifference to the consequences of what he was saying,” Fidell told Fox News. “As a citizen, I find it deeply disturbing that anyone could blow off comments a candidate for the nation’s highest office makes on the basis that they are simply campaign rhetoric.
"We don’t have a more important exercise in our national civic life than presidential campaigns and to treat those as easy come, easy go in terms of significance of what people say is a very unfortunate development that should be resisted now,” he added.
The White House had no comment on the motion to appeal the decision.
Bergdahl is set to face a court-martial on Aug. 7 on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy after walking off his post in Afghanistan in 2009. Should he be considered guilty, he could be potentially sentenced to life in prison.
“He is ready to move onto the next chapter of his life,” Fidell said of Bergdahl.
There is a pre-hearing conference scheduled for May 5. Bergdahl is currently active-duty, serving in an administrative role in San Antonio, Texas.
Fox News' Joseph LoGalbo contributed to this report