Army Maj. Matt Golsteyn’s lawyer, Phil Stackhouse, has lashed out this week at Defense Secretary Mark Esper for attempting to convince President Donald Trump against intervening in Golsteyn’s case, in which he’s accused of premeditated murder for killing a Taliban bomb maker.
“I find it stunning that Secretary of Defense Esper is trying to convince the President of the United States to continue the prosecution of Major Matt Golsteyn,” Stackhouse said in a statement.
“There is no doubt Secretary Esper was completely disinterested in this case while Secretary of the Army and now he is trying to save face for the disaster that happened under his watch and that of his predecessor, Democrat John McHugh,” Stackhouse added.
Stackhouse’s statement cited a number of failures, including investigative agents lying about Golsteyn’s remarks during his CIA interview in 2010, agents “digging through a Medal of Honor Recipient’s trash cans” for evidence, and “interviewing drug addicts” for additional evidence.
“Our warfighters and operators deserve more and that is why the President committed to ending this injustice now,” Stackhouse said.
Golsteyn has been charged with premeditated murder and faces a court-martial in December for his admitted February 2010 killing of a Taliban bomb maker he believed to be responsible for killing several men in his unit. He was later cleared of the act after the Army determined there was insufficient evidence to charge him. In December 2018, they suddenly announced charges against him.
Stackhouse further expounded on the troubled investigation.
“This case has been shrouded in secrecy from the beginning,” Stackhouse told American Military News on Thursday. “The investigation was incompetent in 2015 and only got worse during then-Army Secretary Esper’s tenure.”
“Matt Golsteyn was cleared of the allegations in 2015 after week-long hearing, now the CIA and others are classifying evidence and invoking privilege without oversight after the fact to keep things hidden from the public and from the Golsteyn Defense Team,” Stackhouse added.
Stackhouse said that Army investigative agents working on the Golsteyn case have been plagued by prosecutions and firing, and one was even “kicked out of special forces” for lying about being involved in a shooting.
Further, some of the witnesses in Afghanistan were not officially identified, their relationship to the victim’s family was not verified, and one wasn’t even related at all, Stackhouse said.
Esper had told reporters on Wednesday that he has “full confidence in the military justice system.”
“I had the chance to have a robust discussion with the president yesterday, and I offered, as I do in all matters, the facts, the options, my advice, recommendations, and we’ll see how things play out,” Esper added.
Reports had indicated Esper’s meeting with Trump involved an attempt to stop the president from taking action in the cases of Golsteyn, as well as Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher.
Trump is expected to make an announcement in the coming days on the three cases.
Fox News host Pete Hegseth, an Army veteran who has been a strong advocate for these war crimes cases, announced Trump’s impending announcement after he met with the president last weekend for a discussion.
“It doesn’t have to be a pardon or a commutation,” Hegseth said after confirming the “imminent” presidential action.
“It could be, but pardons and commutations imply guilt, that you’ve done something wrong and you need to be forgiven for that. The president, as the commander-in-chief, has a lot of latitude under the Uniform Code of Military Justice to dismiss a case or change a sentence. From what I understand, that is likely what will happen here shortly.”