Fox News Host Pete Hegseth Brags About Side Hustle as Trump’s War Criminal Adviser
Fox News host Pete Hegseth’s brazen attempts to lobby President Donald Trump to pardon several accused war criminals — both on air and in private conversations — may have crossed a line, even for a network known for its symbiotic relationship with the current administration.
After the New York Times reported that Trump was weighing pardons for several servicemen accused of war crimes — including Edward Gallagher, who was turned in by fellow Navy SEALs for allegedly stabbing to death a captured ISIS fighter and shooting a school-age girl with a sniper rifle — Hegseth celebrated the possibility on Sunday’s edition of Fox & Friends.
“The people in middle America, who respect the troops and the tough calls they make, they’re going to love this,” Hegseth said on air this Sunday. “These are the good guys. These are the war fighters. And making a move like this by Memorial Day would be — I would be — wow, amazing.”
What he didn’t disclose on air, however, is that he was also working behind the scenes to lobby Trump on the pardons. The Daily Beast first reported that Hegseth has for months been privately urging Trump to pardon Gallagher and others accused of horrific crimes. A source with knowledge of Hegseth’s conversations confirmed those efforts to Mediaite.
The revelation of that wild conflict didn’t do much to shame the Fox News host, who tweeted out a link to the Daily Beast report along with hashtags calling to free several jailed servicemen.
— Pete Hegseth (@PeteHegseth) May 21, 2019
Fox News hasn’t issued a statement on its host apparently bragging about his role as an informal war crimes adviser to the president, and the network declined my requests for comment. But sources I spoke to at the network said his defiance hasn’t been well received.
One Fox News source speculated that Hegseth was himself lobbying mainstream media outlets — the very outlets he derides on air — to report on his role pushing Trump to consider pardons. “His lobbying effort to take credit for these pardons is really transparent,” the source griped. “It’s very obvious he’s on a little media tour.”
“It feels like he’s openly campaigning for a job at the White House,” the source said, adding Hegseth’s campaign hasn’t gone unnoticed by higher-ups.
Hegseth’s coziness with the Trump administration is astonishing, even for a host at Trump’s favorite network. He was reportedly a top contender to serve as secretary of Veterans Affairs, and even spoke about the job on air. He is in constant contact with the White House and often speaks with Trump over the phone.
It’s unclear whether Fox News will take any action against Hegseth; though the indication from sources is they will not. Punishing pro-Trump hosts at the network has been a tightrope in the past. When Jeanine Pirro was suspended for making anti-Muslim remarks about a sitting congresswoman, Trump lost it in a series of tweets aimed at the network. Pirro eventually returned to air — with some new restrictions on her show.
It’s also unclear whether Trump will follow through on pardoning the servicemen. The Times reported the Trump administration “made expedited requests this week for paperwork needed to pardon the troops on or around Memorial Day.”
If successful, Gallagher will receive a pardon before the start of his trial, slated for the end of May. Gallagher will be able to thank Hegseth, Trump’s war crimes adviser at Fox News.
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