President Barack Obama defended his controversial decision to commute Chelsea Manning’s remaining sentence on Tuesday.
Slated for a May release, Manning served nearly seven years of a 35-year prison sentence. While jailed at the men’s military prison she announced she was transgender and attempted suicide on two occasions, according to The New York Times.
“I feel very comfortable that justice has been served,” President Obama said during his final press conference on Wednesday.
Manning was convicted of violating the Espionage Act in one of the largest leaks in US history. The now 29-year-old publicized more than 700,000 documents while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2013, according to CNBC.
During prison term, Chelsea Manning emerged as potent symbol of transgender Americans' struggle for acceptance. https://t.co/pKqqIFHoSp
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 18, 2017
President Obama continued, “The notion that the average person who was thinking about disclosing vital, classified information would think that it goes unpunished, I don’t think would get that impression from the sentence that Chelsea Manning has served.”
Since then, President Obama has received a ton of pushback for the decision. Vice President-elect Mike Pence called the decision “a mistake,” deeming Manning a “traitor.”
“Private Manning’s actions compromised our national security, endangered American personnel downrange, compromised individuals in Afghanistan who were cooperating with our forces by leaking 750,000 documents to Wikileaks,” Pence said during an appearance on Fox News’ “Special Report with Bret Baier” Wednesday.
President Obama’s Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, also responded to Republican critics.
“Those are the same Republicans on Capitol Hill who endorsed a man for president who praised WikiLeaks, defended the integrity of Julian Assange even as he was trashing the patriotic men and women who work in the United States intelligence community. I’m tempted to say this is an astonishing display of intellectual dishonesty by congressional Republicans, but it’s honestly par for the course for them.”
[Feature Photo: AP/Patsy Lynch/MediaPunch/IPX]