Trump criticism of Bergdahl played in open court

U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl leaving courthouse after arraignment hearing for his court-martial in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on December 22, 2015

REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

Last Updated Feb 13, 2017 1:13 PM EST

FORT BRAGG, N.C.  -  Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl appeared to grit his teeth while defense attorneys played a video exhibit of President Donald Trump’s scathing condemnation of the soldier.

Bergdahl’s attorneys placed their hands on his shoulder at times while they played the video at a pretrial hearing Monday. They played several minutes of footage of Trump calling Bergdahl a “traitor” at different campaign and media appearances.

Defense attorneys argue that Trump violated Bergdahl’s due process rights to a fair trial because of comments Trump made on the campaign trail.

Bergdahl faces charges that he endangered his comrades when he walked off his post in Afghanistan in 2009.

Military prosecutors say reasonable observers would understand that Trump’s campaign comments should not be taken literally. The judge didn’t immediately rule on a defense motion to dismiss the charges against Bergdahl.

Bergdahl began telling his story publicly for the first time in December 2015 on the second season of the popular “Serial” podcast.

Misbehavior before the enemy was used hundreds of times during World War II, but scholars say its use appears to have dwindled in conflicts since then. Legal databases and media accounts turn up only a few misbehavior cases since 2001 when fighting began in Afghanistan, followed by Iraq less than two years later. By contrast, statistics show the U.S. Army prosecuted about 1,900 desertion cases between 2001 and the end of 2014.