Flashback: Murphy Called Bergdahl an 'American Hero' in 2014

Three years later, Army soldier pleads guilty to desertion, misbehavior before the enemy

Sen. Chris Murphy / Getty Images
October 16, 2017

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy (Conn.) hailed Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as an "American hero" when he returned to the U.S. as part of a controversial prisoner swap in 2014, but on Monday, Bergdahl pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy when he walked off his base in Afghanistan in 2009.

Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban shortly after deserting his post and was in captivity for five years, until the Obama administration traded five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay for his release.

Bergdahl's desertion charge carries a potential five-year prison sentence, and his misbehavior before the enemy charge—which means endangering fellow soldiers, in this case by putting them in harms way when they searched for him—carries a potential life sentence.

The Army will now hold a hearing to determine punishment for Bergdahl, now 31.

After Bergdahl was released from the Taliban on May 31, 2014, Murphy tweeted that "an American hero is coming home."

A week later, the Connecticut Democrat attempted to push back against critics of the prisoner swap, who argued it was wrong to release five Taliban commanders for one solider suspected of desertion, saying there should be a debate about the details of the trade, but not about whether "Bergdahl was worthy of (or sick enough to deserve) rescue."

Murphy was not the only Democrat to praise Bergdahl. President Barack Obama's former national security adviser, Susan Rice, praised Bergdahl at the time, saying he served the United States with "honor and distinction."

Obama defended his trade with the Taliban back in 2014, saying that he "make[s] absolutely no apologies" for getting Bergdahl back to the U.S. and helping him reunite with his parents.

President Donald Trump has been an outspoken critic of the Taliban prisoner swap since 2014, calling Bergdahl a "dirty rotten traitor" on the campaign trail last year. He has also slammed Obama on Twitter for negotiating the trade with the Taliban.