Manning commutation sparks Democratic criticism
© Getty Images

President Obama's 11th-hour decision to cut short former Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning's prison sentence is drawing backlash from a growing number of Senate Democrats. 

The White House announced this week that the president had commuted the prison sentence. Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in 2013 for leaking classified information about U.S. national security activities to WikiLeaks, will now be released in May. 
 
A small, but growing, number of Senate Democrats are distancing themselves from the decision, which they warn could have negative consequences for national security. 
 
 
"[It's] something I wouldn't have done," he told Fox News.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) told The Hill that he was "disappointed" in the decision, while Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinGOP plays defense on ObamaCare’s pre-existing conditions Doug Jones to McConnell: Don't 'plow right through' with Kavanaugh Cook Political Report moves Texas Senate race to ‘toss-up’ MORE (D-W.Va) separately called the president's decision "dead wrong."
 
"I think he's dead wrong. Absolutely dead wrong," he told "Meet the Press Daily." "This is treason, espionage at the highest level."
 
 
But the White House defended the president's decision, with press secretary Josh Earnest saying Republicans are showing "intellectual dishonesty" if they criticize Obama while supporting President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE, whose presidential campaign benefited from WikiLeaks' publication of hacked emails from Democratic organizations and individuals.
 
Obama separately said Wednesday that "justice was served" by the commutation. 
 
"It has been my view ... that the sentence that she received was very disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received and that she had served a significant amount of time," Obama said during a press conference.
 
 
"Certainly when you served seven years in prison and you've apologized, you indicate what ... you did was wrong," he said. 
 
Wyden contrasted Manning's sentence to former CIA Director David Petraeus, who received two years of probation and a fine after he pleasded guilty to removing and mishandling classified information, which he shared with his biographer Paula Brodwell, with whom he was having an affair.
 
Manning's 35-year sentence marked the longest ever handed down for a leaking conviction.
 
Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGillibrand calls for Kavanaugh nomination to be withdrawn Feinstein calls for hold on Kavanaugh consideration Grassley releases letter detailing Kavanaugh sexual assault allegation MORE (D-Calif.), the former ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, also defended the president's decision, while stressing that "nobody should ever believe" that Manning's actions weren't "serious." 
 
"Seven years is a long time and she did serve that time," she told reporters.