Ex-Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher Would Campaign for Trump If Asked: 'He Helped Save My Life'

Former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher has said he believes he would have been jailed for life without President Donald Trump's intervention in his case, and is willing to campaign for the president's re-election if asked to do so.

Speaking with CBS News' 60 Minutes in a program aired Sunday, Gallagher said he owes the president a debt of gratitude for supporting him during his court martial, during which the 40-year-old stood accused of murdering a wounded Islamic State prisoner during a deployment to Iraq in 2017.

Gallagher was acquitted of murdering the captive, though was convicted of wrongfully posing with a human casualty after taking a picture with the body while holding a hunting knife. He left the Navy in November 2019.

Trump intervened in the case while Gallagher was in pre-trial Navy detention. The president wrote on Twitter that Gallagher would be moved to "less restrictive confinement" because of his "past service to our Country."

After Gallagher's acquittal, Trump congratulated him and later intervened to reverse the Navy decision to demote him and to stop the service taking away his Trident pin insignia, which designates Navy SEALs.

Speaking with CBS' David Martin, Gallagher said he believed Trump's influence was key in securing his freedom. "If the president hadn't intervened in any way… I believe I'd be in prison for life," he explained.

Though Trump had no direct bearing on the trial—as Marc Mukasey, an attorney for the Trump Organization, also told Martin during the program—Gallagher said his getting out of the Navy brig allowed him to "actually properly defend myself."

Asked whether he will campaign for Trump's re-election campaign this year, Gallagher replied, "I have not been personally asked to campaign for his re-election."

"But if he asks me, if he wants me to help out in any way, yes, I would," Gallagher added. "He helped save my life."

Before his trial, it was speculated that Trump might issue Gallagher a pardon for the crimes he allegedly committed. But Gallagher told Martin this was not something he wanted.

"We didn't want to be pardoned, I wanted to go to trial," he said. "If I had been pardoned, I would have had that presumption of guilt the rest of my life."

Navy SEAL Corey Scott first claimed to have seen Gallagher stabbing the prisoner to death, but at the court martial—and having been granted immunity—Scott admitted that he had asphyxiated the prisoner as he thought he was going to die and was worried that Iraqi troops would torture the captive.

Though acquitted of the killing, Gallagher said he now acknowledges that what he did was "wrong" and that the photo was "distasteful." Holding the knife alongside the dead prisoner was him "trying to make it look tough," he explained.

"I know how bad it looks when it gets out into the public, which it never was supposed to," he added. Gallagher sent the image to a friend, writing alongside it: "Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife." Gallagher described the message as "dark humor" and "a joke text."

Ultimately Gallagher does not feel sorry for the young fighter, who was captured in poor condition with suspected internal injuries after being caught in a coalition airstrike. "That's war," Gallagher said. "He was out there trying to kill us."

Eddie Gallagher, Navy SEALs, Donald Trump, 2020
Navy Special Operations Chief Eddie Gallagher walks out of military court during lunch recess on July 2, 2019 in San Diego, California. Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images/Getty