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Marine vet Rep. Hunter asks DOD to investigate ‘leaks and lies’ in SEAL Gallagher’s case

U.S. Congressman Duncan Hunter of California speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
April 30, 2019

Rep. Duncan Hunter has sent a letter to acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan asking him to open investigations into issues he says are hindering Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher’s right to a fair trial.

In the letter, dated April 21 and posted to social media this week by Andrea Gallagher, Eddie Gallagher’s wife, Hunter asks Shanahan to investigate Navy Judge Aaron Rugh’s concerns about leaks to the media that could taint the jury in the case. Hunter points out an alleged leak of thousands of Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) documents “only moments after [the judge] ordered a blanket gag order.”

“If true, this is beyond reprehensible and needs to be addressed,” he says.

Hunter, a Marine officer combat veteran, also says that Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Group 1 Commodore Capt. Matthew Rosenbloom, Eddie Gallagher’s commander, is “exerting unlawful command influence by outright suggesting to military service members directly under their command that Chief Gallagher is guilty of premeditated murder,” and that he is also telling people there’s a “secret video” of Gallagher committing the alleged murder.

“… [T]hese actions could be affecting and altering witnesses’ testimonies,” Hunter writes. “Even the witnesses that are not directly under his chain of command could be adversely affected by these statements, due to the close nature of the SEAL community.”

Hunter also asks Shanahan to look into Rosenbloom and the restrictions he has placed on Gallagher, who has been moved from the brig at Miramar in San Diego to what was supposed to be less-restrictive confinement, in barracks, per the order of President Donald Trump.

Gallagher, 39, was arrested on Sept. 11, 2018. He is charged with premeditated murder, accused of stabbing and killing a critically wounded ISIS fighter during a 2017 deployment to Mosul. He is also accused of shooting at unarmed civilians.

Hunter asks that the Defense Department Office of Inspector General (DODOIG) look into his requests and open investigations.

Gallagher’s defense team had filed a motion accusing the prosecution and an NCIS investigator of misconduct and blatantly suppressing information that doesn’t support their case – but that could help Gallagher’s case.

There have been hundreds of pages of documents leaked to the media regarding this case, and some reports about Gallagher paint only one side or a limited side of the story – unable to be addressed by the defense – based on the content of the leaked documents.

The judge has ordered the leaks stop, as they could taint the trial, influence the jury and make Gallagher look bad.

Gallagher’s defense team had also filed a motion to remove restrictions that are hindering Gallagher’s ability to prepare for his trial in May – restrictions that his team says are the result of command attempting to exert “unlawful command influence.”

The motion asserted that Rosenbloom “improperly prejudged his desired outcome” for the case, an action Gallagher’s legal team says is unlawful and is intentionally hampering their client’s ability to assist in his own defense.

Gallagher’s court-martial is set to start May 28.