Fox News host Pete Hegseth completed the circle on Wednesday morning, applauding President Donald Trump for pardoning four military contractors convicted of killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in 2007.
Hegseth’s public praise of the president follows a lengthy lobbying campaign on behalf of the convicted war criminals by the Fox & Friends personality.
As you may recall, just before Trump tossed a hand grenade at the 11th hour into coronavirus relief legislation, the outgoing president went on a pre-Christmas pardoning spree that included four security guards for private military security firm Blackwater.
The contractors—Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, Dustin Heard, and Nicholas Slatten—were part of an armed convoy that opened fire on a crowd of unarmed people in the middle of a square in Baghdad. With the guards indiscriminately using machine guns, a rocket launcher and sniper, the Nisour Square massacre resulted in international outrage.
Eventually, Slough, Liberty, and Heard were convicted on multiple charges of manslaughter and each sentenced to 30 years in prison. Slatten, meanwhile, was sentenced to life for first-degree murder. Among the casualties in the massacre were two Iraqi boys, ages 8 and 11.
Following a Fox & Friends report on the slew of pardons on Wednesday morning, Hegseth—an Iraq War veteran who was once considered by Trump to lead the Veterans Administration—offered up his personal thoughts.
“I would note, also, that Blackwater contractors and you look at that story of Raven 23 and how it was misconstrued against those guys,” Hegseth declared. “God bless the president for having the courage which a lot of other presidents wouldn’t do to pardon those men.”
“Those veterans who were there defending diplomats put in an impossible situation,” the Fox host added.
The Daily Beast reported last year that Hegseth had been privately lobbying Trump to issue pardons to a slate of servicemen who had been accused or convicted of war crimes. Trump stepped in, for instance, and reversed the military demotion of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher, who was cleared of murder in the killing of a teenage Islamic State captive but convicted of posing with the teen’s dead body for a photograph.