The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces has agreed to review Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s convictions for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
Bergdahl, who grew up near Hailey, pleaded guilty to the charges in October 2017. However, he claims the charges should be dismissed due to “unlawful command influence” exercised by President Donald Trump in statements he made while a candidate and later while in office and by then-Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. While campaigning for president, Trump called Bergdahl a “dirty, rotten, no-good traitor.” McCain told a reporter that his committee would hold a hearing if Bergdahl was not punished, according to the Associated Press.
Bergdahl’s claim was rejected in July by a 2-1 decision of the Army Court of Criminal Appeals. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces reviews decisions from that court and from the other three intermediate appellate courts of the armed services.
The higher court’s five-member panel of judges has discretion over whether to accept or deny petitions for review. In 2018, the court received 358 such petitions and accepted only 46.
The court filed an order granting Bergdahl’s petition on Nov. 4.
“He presented good cause to the court to review it further,” Court Clerk Joe Perlak said in an interview.
Bergdahl will have 30 days from that date to file a brief supporting his claim, then the Army will have 30 days to file a response brief, then Bergdahl will have 10 days to file a response to that. After that 70-day period, a date will be set to hear the case.