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Trump criticism of Bergdahl played in open court

Jonathan Drew
Associated Press

Raleigh, N.C. — Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl appeared to grit his teeth while defense attorneys played a video exhibit of President Donald Trump’s scathing condemnation of the soldier.

Bergdahl’s attorneys placed their hands on his shoulder at times while they played the video at a pretrial hearing Monday. They played several minutes of footage of Trump calling Bergdahl a “traitor” at different campaign and media appearances.

Defense attorneys argue that Trump violated Bergdahl’s due process rights to a fair trial because of comments Trump made on the campaign trail.

Bergdahl faces charges that he endangered his comrades when he walked off his post in Afghanistan in 2009.

Military prosecutors say reasonable observers would understand that Trump’s campaign comments should not be taken literally. The judge didn’t immediately rule on a defense motion to dismiss the charges against Bergdahl.

Bergdahl, who is from Idaho, has said he walked off his post to cause alarm and draw attention to what he saw as problems with his unit.

He was held captive by the Taliban and its allies for five years. The Obama administration’s decision in May 2014 to exchange Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners prompted some Republicans to accuse Obama of jeopardizing the nation’s safety.