"Insurgents" lobbied Trump for war crimes pardons with little Pentagon involvement, officials say

Early this month, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy — both Army veterans — went to the White House to persuade the president not to move forward with his plan. The visit came one day after Hegseth, who did not respond to The Washington Post’s requests for comment, announced on his show that he expected Trump to intervene in the cases.

For more than an hour, the senior defense officials described what they believe to be the facts of the case, said officials familiar with the meeting. They carried documents and graphics with them and pointed out that Golsteyn was accused of burying the man he had killed, digging up his remains and then moving them. Lorance had been convicted in the deaths of unarmed men, they added.

Senior defense officials, who learned about Trump’s plan shortly before Hegseth’s announcement, were convinced that Trump was being fed bad information. Two officials said one document that reached the Oval Office stated that the Afghans killed in Lorance’s case were “gunning” their motorcycle at the soldiers — a point often repeated by conservative pundits. Other soldiers testified at Lorance’s trial that the men killed were a couple hundred yards away and not on a motorcycle when the Americans opened fire.