In the course of defending his decision
to pardon former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, President Donald Trump
referred to Chelsea Manning as a “he.”
Manning, a 29-year-old former Army
intelligence analyst was sentenced to a 35-year prison sentence for
violating the Espionage Act. Former President Barack Obama commuted
all but four months of Manning's remaining 27 year prison term. In
announcing his decision, Obama said that Manning's sentence was too
harsh relative to sentences other leakers have received. Manning
came out transgender on the first day of her sentence.
Over the weekend, Trump shared a tweet
from Fox News journalist Katie Pavlich which stated that Obama
“Your boss [Obama] pardoned a traitor
who gave U.S. enemies state secrets, he also pardoned a terrorist who
killed Americans. Spare us the lecture,” Pavlich responded to
criticism from former National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes.
Trump has faced criticism for his
decision to pardon Arpaio. In July, a federal judge found Arpaio
guilty of criminal contempt of court, finding that he had defied a
judge's order to stop arresting immigrants suspected of being in the
United States illegally.
At a press conference on Monday, Trump
defended his decision to pardon Arpaio by noting other controversial
presidential pardons or commutations, including Manning's.
“Sheriff Joe is a great veteran of
the military, great law enforcement person, somebody that's won many,
many elections in the state of Arizona,” Trump told reporters.
“But I wanted to look at some of the other people that were
pardoned over the years.”
“Criminal leaker. You've heard the
word leaker? President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea
Manning, who leaked countless sensitive and classified documents to
WikiLeaks, perhaps and others … a horrible, horrible thing that he
“[Obama] commuted the sentence and
perhaps pardoned,” he added.