Navy Seal Edward Gallagher described by his own unit as ‘evil’, ‘toxic’ and ‘perfectly OK with killing anybody’

The navy SEAL whose demotion after being convicted of posing next to the corpse of a captured Islamic State prisoner was overturned by Donald Trump has been described as “toxic” and “evil” by members of his own unit. Explosive testimony obtained by the New York Times has reignited the controversy over Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher, one of three US servicemen facing war crimes allegations who were pardoned by the American president. The Gallagher case polarised American public opinion with Fox News taking up his case as well as the US president. Mr Trump’s intervention angered the Pentagon with senior figures fearing it would undermine military discipline. The row culminated in the sacking of the US Navy Secretary, Richard Spencer. Gallagher, 40, had been accused of war crimes following the fatal stabbing of a captured ISIS fighter and the shooting of two civilians in Iraq in 2017. At a court-martial in July he was acquitted of six out of seven charges, including murder and attempted murder after a key witness changed his testimony. Corey Scott, who had been granted immunity, took responsibility for the wounded prisoner’s death, telling the hearing he blocked the man’s breathing tube as an act of mercy rather than allow him to be tortured by the Iraqi security forces. A military jury in San Diego did convict Gallagher of posing next to the prisoner’s body and demoted him one rank and stripped him of the prestigious Trident Insignia. Mr Trump described the soldier as one of America’s ‘great fighters’ and invited him to Mar-a-Lago Credit: LEAH MILLER/REUTERS The punishment was overruled by Donald Trump who ordered that Gallagher’s insignia should be restored and that he should be allowed to retire with his rank intact. Earlier this month Mr Trump invited Gallagher and his wife to Mar-a-Lago and described him at a recent rally as one of America’s “great fighters”. However, the footage of evidence presented to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), obtained by the New York Times and broadcast on “The Weekly” paints a very different picture of Gallagher, who was the leader of Alpha Platoon, SEAL Team 7. Members of the team told investigators that they spent much of their time trying to protect civilians from Gallagher. Special Operator Craig Miller described Mr Gallagher as “freaking evil”, while another member of the team said he was ”toxic” describing the incident as “the most disgraceful thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” Corey Scott, whose testimony was pivotal in the court-martial, told investigators “You could tell he was perfectly OK with killing anybody that was moving.”  In a statement, Gallagher voiced his “surprise and disgust” at the testimony which he described as “blatant lies”. He added: “I felt sorry for them that they thought it necessary to smear my name, but they never realised what the consequences of their lies would be.  “As upset as I was, the videos also gave me confidence because I knew that their lies would never hold up under real questioning and the jury would see through it.  “Their lies and NCIS’s refusal to ask hard questions or corroborate their stories strengthened my resolve to go to trial and clear my name.” Gallagher’s lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, told the New York Times the videos were full of inconsistencies and falsehoods which “a clear road map to the acquittal.”