Spicer: Chelsea Manning commutation ‘disappointing’

Bradley Manning, Chelsea Manning, solitary

Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Wednesday called President Obama’s commutation of Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence “disappointing,” arguing it sends a “very troubling message” on the handling of classified information.

Obama on Tuesday commuted the remaining prison sentence of Manning, who was convicted in 2013 of leaking classified information about U.S. national security activities that were disclosed by WikiLeaks.

President-elect Donald Trump “is troubled by this action,” Spicer told reporters on Wednesday at an in-person transition meeting.

{mosads}“After the outrage we’ve seen about the other leaks that have come up, to see someone who has given away the country’s secrets and then convicted of it … it’s disappointing and it sends a very troubling message when it comes to the handling of classified information.”

A senior administration official said Tuesday that Obama believes that Manning has shown remorse and that she has already served “sufficient punishment for the serious crimes she committed.”

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison with an initial release in 2045. She’s already served seven years, and will now be released on May 17.

Asked later in the meeting about Edward Snowden, Spicer said the president-elect isn’t currently focused on the former National Security Agency leaker, but indicated that there will likely be time to discuss that in the future. 

“I think he’s less focused on pardons and deals like that right now, and more focused on jobs and economic growth,” Spicer said. “I’m sure there will be time for that discussion down the road.”

The question comes as multiple reports said Russia agreed to extend Snowden’s residence permit until 2020. He’s been living there since 2013 after facing espionage charges for leaking classified information on U.S. government surveillance programs.

Jonathan Easley contributed.

– Updated at 12:29 p.m.

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