Veteran Slams Pardoned War Criminal’s Bid to Become a Lawyer

John Lamparski/Getty

John Lamparski/Getty

A former United States Army officer who was convicted of war crimes over killings in Afghanistan and later pardoned by Donald Trump has been criticized by one of the men who served in his platoon over his apparent plans to become a practicing lawyer.

On Thursday, Todd Fitzgerald—a specialist who was standing near 1st Lt. Clint Lorance when Lorance gave the orders to fire that led to his court martial—publicly shared his intention to oppose Lorance’s legal ambitions. “Eleven years ago, I witness the harassment, threatening, and murder of innocent Afghan locals by my former platoon leader,” Fitzgerald wrote in a Twitter thread. “Now, he’s applying for the state bar in Oklahoma to attempt to practice law. I’m going to object on moral fitness and character.”

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In July 2012, Lorance was commanding a platoon in southern Afghanistan when he ordered his soldiers to shoot at three men standing alongside a motorcycle who he claimed were posing a threat, according to The Washington Post. Two of the men were killed while the third escaped. The following year, a court-martial trial found Lorance guilty of murder, and he was ultimately handed a 19-year sentence.

Six years into his incarceration, in 2019, Trump issued a full pardon for Lorance following a vocal campaign in right-wing media for his release. In an interview with after he was freed, Lorance discussed his intention to become a lawyer after studying at the Appalachian School of Law—though claimed his dean had informed him he would only have a small chance of passing the bar in light of his conviction.

In his Twitter thread, Fitzgerald provided a link to the Oklahoma Bar Association website listing Lorance as an applicant for the 2023 bar exam scheduled for July.

“Not only do I object on the grounds that Clint murdered innocent people, but he has NEVER taken any accountability for his own actions,” Fitzgerald wrote. “He has continually pushed a false narrative that it was a split-second battlefield decision (it was not) and along with his defense, insists that the men he murdered were enemies and bombmakers (they were neither).”

“I object to his moral fitness because he has no moral fiber,” Fitzgerald added. “None. We deserve better.” Fitzgerald went on to allege that, after the shooting in Afghanistan, Lorance had pointed his rifle at a crowd of “crying women and children” who had gathered to seek answers about the incident and yelled at them: “Shut the fuck up or I’ll kill you too.”

“That has stuck with me because he KNEW he killed innocent people,” Fitzgerald wrote. “He TOLD us to ‘forget’ we saw their identification. He tried to cover it up and obstruct justice. We deserve better people representing us. That’s why I’m objecting.”

The Daily Beast has contacted Fitzgerald, Lorance, and the Oklahoma Bar Association for comment.

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