WASHINGTON – Fox News -- President Donald Trump restored Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher rank Friday of a Navy SEAL court-martialed and acquitted in San Diego earlier this year by a jury of five Marines and two Navy men on murder charges, with the White House stating his promotion was "justified" given his acquittal and "service to our nation."
Gallagher was cleared in July of fatally stabbing a wounded teenage ISIS fighter and shooting Iraqi civilians, but was demoted in rank after the same jury convicted him for posing for a photograph with the teen's corpse.
President Trump pledged support for Gallagher throughout the criminal proceedings, signed an Executive Order of Clemency on Friday, then restored Gallagher to the rank of E-7.
Gallagher was accused of murdering the teen in May 2017, as well as shooting a male and female civilian whose bodies were never recovered and, just over a month later, opening fire on a crowd of civilians from a sniper's nest in Mosul, Iraq. He faced life imprisonment had he been convicted of all counts.
Gallagher's conviction carried a four-month sentence behind bars, but he had already served that time while awaiting trial. However, his rank demotion also affected his salary and pension.
The White House's statement noted Gallagher's many awards and accolades, including his selection for promotion to Senior Chief and his receipt of a Bronze Star with a "V" for valor.
Embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, who also publicly supported Gallagher throughout his trial, called the order "a victory for our warfighters," and pledged he would "remain committed to fixing our broken military justice system."
Hunter, a former Marine, previously stated that he also posed with an enemy combatant's corpse during his time in the Marines, and chided military prosecutors at the time for charging Gallagher "on very circumstantial and limited" evidence, "accomplishing nothing but destroying the military career of a decorated Navy SEAL and giving every warfighter cause for concern that the nation they serve does not have their back."