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Bowe Bergdahl's Lawyers May Call Trump as Witness

(CNN) 

By    |   Friday, 22 Jan 2016 05:26 PM

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump may be called to testify at Bowe Bergdahl's court martial this summer over statements that have "irreparably compromised" the Army sergeant's "right to a fair trial," Bergdahl's attorney said Friday.

In an interview with Brooke Baldwin on CNN, Eugene Fidell likened Trump's attacks on Bergdahl to those of a "lynch mob" trying to "incite ill will and vilification" of his client.

He said that Bergdahl's legal team has been monitoring Trump's comments "for some time" — saying that he had eight pages worth of notes detailing the developer's attacks.

These included comments made at his Oklahoma rally on Tuesday, when he was endorsed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

"There's a position that's so extreme here that we are concerned whether Sergeant Bergdahl's right to a fair trial has been severely compromised by Mr. Trump's comments," Fidell said.

Fidell quickly cautioned, however, that no decision yet had been made on any Trump testimony, and the lawyer said at the outset that his comments did not reflect his opinion on the billionaire's ability to be president of the United States.

Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban after walking away from his post in Afghanistan in June 2009, is charged with misbehavior before the enemy, desertion and endangering U.S. troops.

He was released in May 2014 in exchange for five Afghan detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. Bergdahl was the only U.S. prisoner held in Afghanistan.

A native of Hailey, Idaho, Bergdahl, now 29, faces a court-martial in August. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

Since beginning his White House run last June, Trump has consistently blasted Bergdahl in speeches and rallies throughout the country.

In October, for instance, Trump told a rally in Las Vegas that Bergdahl should have been executed for leaving his post in Afghanistan.

"We're tired of Sgt. Bergdahl, who's a traitor, a no-good traitor, who should have been executed," Trump said. "Thirty years ago, he would have been shot."

In a filing in the case that same month, Fidell and Bergdahl's military lawyers had argued that Trump's comments exceeded his right to free speech.

"The First Amendment rules out any effort to prevent Mr. Trump from making these defamatory remarks," they said in the filing, Bloomberg's Josh Rogin reports.

"The fact remains, however, that his pattern of doing so, with the full glare of public attention before mass audiences around the country, materially threatens Sgt. Bergdahl’s right to fair consideration by the convening authority as well as in a court-martial."

He told CNN that the comments could influence any potential jurors who might be called in the case.

Fidell has asked the courts to release documents that he said would show that Trump’s comments — including the developer's claim that six U.S. soldiers died searching for Bergdahl — were false, according to Rogin's report for Bloomberg.

If Trump refuses to testify, he might be subpoenaed, he told Baldwin on Friday.

"Maybe a defamation suit may well be down the road."

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump may be called to testify at Bowe Bergdahl's court martial this summer over statements that have "irreparably compromised" the Army sergeant's "right to a fair trial," Bergdahl's attorney said Friday.
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2016-26-22
Friday, 22 Jan 2016 05:26 PM
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