A military judge decided Tuesday that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl would be court-martialed in February under a new commander-in-chief as Barack Obama’s presidency comes to an end.
Bergdahl’s case will be delayed from August to early 2017 so that disputes regarding the defense’s access to classified documents can be resolved , the Associated Press reported.
Bergdahl, who was released during a prisoner swap last summer after spending five years as a Taliban prisoner in Afghanistan, faces charges of desertion and "misbehavior before the enemy" after walking off of his combat post. He faces a life sentence if convicted.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has previously called Bergdahl a "traitor who should have been executed." Bergdahl’s defense claims the business mogul has ruined his ability to provide a fair trial should he clinch the White House this November.
The Associated Press reported:
The defense's complaints about Trump have no bearing on the case right now, according to Rachel VanLandingham, a former Air Force lawyer who teaches at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. But if he is elected in November and keeps up his harsh comments, the defense could more effectively argue that a President Trump is unfairly pressuring Army brass for a conviction, she said.
The military judge, Col. Jeffrey Nance, also ruled Tuesday that Army prosecutors must provide online access to court documents to media groups covering the case.
President Obama last year released five Taliban detainees held by the U.S. in exchange for Bergdahl without seeking congressional consent. The GOP-led House soon after accused Obama of breaking federal law during the controversial prisoner swap.