Before Travesty of Justice was originally released on March 31, 2019, the case of Lieutenant Clint Lorance had largely been lost in the national media. In the four-month period from December 2018 through April 2, 2019, fifteen national television reports featured so-called “war crimes” cases, calling for presidential action. All these stories focused on either Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher, or Army Major Matt Golsteyn, who were both in the middle of prosecutions for “murder” for so-called “war crimes” charges, relating to suicidal rules of engagement.
Both Gallagher and Golsteyn deserved that coverage. Their cases, like Lorance’s, were politically charged nonsense, attempts to prosecute American warriors for killing the enemy. But their cases had not yet been tried. Lorance had been tried and convicted six years before, and was largely forgotten by the national media, until Travesty of Justice.
But beginning April 2, 2019, when I appeared on the Sean Hannity Show, and the on April 13, with a national TV appearance on Fox & Friends, Travesty of Justice unleashed a torrent of national coverage on the Lorance case, including numerous national television and radio appearances between April and November. All these appearances included messages to the president, requesting Lorance’s release. Numerous national OP-ED opportunities followed, including an OP-ED that I wrote on the front page of the editorial section of the Washington Times on November 7, urging President Trump to release Lorance.
In the blink of an eye, thanks to Travesty of Justice, and especially to my friends Sean Hannity and Pete Hegseth of Fox News for facilitating multiple national television and radio appearances, Lorance was back in the national discussion, and suddenly, had the attention of the president. Over the summer of 2019, momentum continued to build in bringing Clint’s case back into the national limelight.
Before the rest of the country knew anything, Pete Hegseth called on me both October 31 and November 3, passing along information that he had just gotten off the phone with the president, and that President Trump had decided to act to free Clint. On October 31, the president, through Pete, asked me for a final briefing paper on Clint’s case. I happily complied.
On November 3, the White House, again through Pete, made another request, this time asking me for suggested language in a press release announcing Clint’s release.
Again, I happily complied.
That night, November 3, Pete broke the story via twitter, that presidential action was imminent, and that Lorance, along with Golsteyn and Gallagher, would soon be granted presidential relief. Pete followed that with an appearance on Fox & Friends on November 4.
We all thought the release might come Veterans Day. So, five days later, we headed to Leavenworth, full of prayers and hope.
In the frigid, sub-freezing cold of Northeastern Kansas, off the icy banks of the Missouri River, on one of the great installations of the United States Army, the family of Army Lieutenant Clint Lorance along with Clint’s legal team, gathered on Veterans Day weekend 2019, full of hope.
Still, we had no precise details on what might be coming, or when, except that Veterans Day was the general target range for presidential action.
Standing in the icy parking lot in front of the coiled barbed-wire encircling the massive, gray United States Disciplinary Barracks, on the far northern sector of Fort Leavenworth, Clint’s family and lawyers braved the cold and falling snow in hopes that November 11 would mark the day that the president would use his constitutional power as Commander in Chief to free Clint from over six years of wrongful imprisonment at Leavenworth.
Although November 11 came and went with Clint still imprisoned, neither the family nor the legal team lost hope. The president is a busy man and the most powerful man in the world.
And he is also a man of his word. The president told our friend Pete Hesgeth on November 3 that freedom was coming for Clint. And though Veterans Day passed, we had no doubts that Clint’s day would come. Soon Clint would be free, and rightly so. We all knew it. It was only a matter of when.
Waiting in dimly lit Leavenworth hotel rooms, drinking coffee and fighting frigid temperatures outside, the family and legal team stayed holed up in the days after November 11 in Leavenworth, Kansas, checking the president’s twitter feed, and hoping for signs of more hope.
A few more days would pass. These stretched into long, emotional hours. But glorious freedom would come soon. We knew it. We kept the faith.
Then, on the afternoon of Friday, November 15, I received four separate phone calls from the the President’s secretary. President Trump had already spoken with Gallagher and Golsteyn, I was told, and was about to call Clint at the United States Disciplinary Barracks. The White House was seeking specific contact information for Clint.
At a little before 6 p.m. Eastern time, 15 November 2019, a call came through to the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth. The White House was on the line.
Any call from the White House will send any U.S. military facility into a scramble, and at Fort Leavenworth, an excitement permeated the air. “Get Lorance. It’s the White House.’
Moments later, First Lieutenant Clint Lorance, who was one of the most decorated young officers in the United States Army at the time he was charged for murder because his men shot three Taliban insurgents charging his platoon on a motorcycle, picked up the phone. He’d served six years and two months of a nineteen-year prison sentence at Leavenworth.
It was a surreal moment that happens once in a lifetime to less than one in a million people. On the other line were the President of the United States, and the Vice President of the United States.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence thanked Clint for his service to our country and chatted for a few moments. And then came the President announced that Clint’s long nightmare was over. The president was about to sign papers to pardon him for any offenses he may have committed against the United States. He was going home.
Soon Clint’s lungs would again breathe the air of freedom, the same freedom for which he would have laid down his life to protect his countrymen. Before midnight that evening, Clint was back in his Army dress blue uniform, wearing the maroon beret of an 82nd Airborne paratrooper, and in the arms of his family.
The next day, Clint drove nine hours with his cousin Jamie to his beloved hometown of Celeste, Texas. Thanksgiving 2019 would be the greatest Thanksgiving of his life. In the flash of a phone call, justice had been served, in the most improbable way. This Travesty of Justice had been made right.
The problem with thank you lists, in a case like this, with so many to thank, is that one risks forgetting some of the warriors who played such a pivotal role. And then again, there are so many to thank.
LTC John N. Maher, founder of the defense team, who unearthed the biometrics evidence that destroyed this foolish prosecution, Lorance Defense team members Kevin Mikolashek David Bolgiano, and Chris Joseph, the United American Patriots (www.UAP.org) which funded Clint’s defense, Lt.Col. David Gurfein, Rep. Louie Gohmert, Rep. Ralph Abraham, Rep. Ralph Norman, Rep. Duncan Hunter, Rep. Garret Graves, LTC Allen West, Connie Powell, Suzanne White, Mary Mattox, Jack Miller, Terry Buckler, the Louisiana Republican party, Lauren and Lynda McLaughlin, Don Snyder, Dick McDermott, Josh Campbell, Elizabeth Brown, Julianna Paglia, Karen and Billy Vaughn, with special kudos to Sean Hannity and Pete Hegseth … who all followed the motto of the exonerated Lieutenant, “Never give up. Never give in.”
But most thanks go to President Donald J. Trump, who rightly bucked the stubborn mentality of his own Defense Department, which resisted the president in doing the right thing, by freeing the lieutenant. Today, Lieutenant Lorance, who put his life on the line for our country, breathes the sweet air of freedom. This Thanksgiving, he will be around the table with his family, in the simple, God-fearing town of Celeste, Texas.
God is good.
In granting freedom to Lieutenant Clint Lorance, and in pardoning Major Matt Golsteyn and restoring Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher, the president sent a powerful message to every active duty servicemember and veteran who ever wore the uniform. “I have your backs.”
Let us pray to God that our forces never again have to engage in battle. But if they do, may the story of Clint Lorance underscore a newfound American determination that our men and women in uniform will never again be prosecuted for killing the enemy.
As the President said in his inaugural address. “From this day forward, it’s going to be America first.”
On behalf of the Lorance family and legal team, Thank you Mr. President.
God bless America.
Author, Travesty of Justice
Member, Lorance Legal Team