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Trump Calls Chelsea Manning a ‘Traitor,’ Hypocritically Defends Former Pres. Obama

Donald Trump
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

In a public declaration of his opposition to the commutation of transgender soldier Chelsea Manning, President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Thursday, Jan. 26, to deem the former military service member a “traitor” to the United States.

Trump’s sharp invective was seemingly in response to a recent article Manning wrote for The Guardian newspaper, in which she criticized former President Barack Obama for not being a bold enough leader — even after Obama commuted her lengthy prison sentence in the final days of his presidency.

The disgraced soldier, then known as Bradley Manning, was sentenced to 35 years in a military prison in August 2013 for leaking troves of classified diplomatic and military documents to WikiLeaks. She’s expected to be released in May.

“Unfortunately, despite his faith in our system and his positive track record on many issues over the last eight years, there have been very few permanent accomplishments,” Manning wrote of Obama’s legacy. “This vulnerable legacy should remind us that what we really need is a strong and unapologetic progressive to lead us. What we need as well is a relentless grassroots movement to hold that leadership accountable.”

The critical column painting the former president as a “weak leader” prompted Trump to leap to Obama’s defense — a move that was truly hypocritical considering the terrible things Trump himself has said about Obama in the past.

From questioning the citizenship of the nation’s first Black president to making inflammatory claims that Obama was the founder of terror group ISIS, Trump was not the kindest critic of the former Commander in Chief. At a Florida press conference in July, the real estate tycoon called Obama one of the “most ignorant presidents in our nation’s history,” Politico reported. The Donald also took aim at Obama’s healthcare law and foreign policy chops, asserting that he had done a terrible job at being president.

“He has been a disaster as a president,” Trump said at that same press conference. “He will go down as one of the worst presidents in the history of our country. It is a mess.”

Although the newly elected president jumped to the defense of Obama, he and his staunch right-wing administration have publicly condemned the ex-president’s decision to commute Manning’s sentence. White House spokesperson Sean Spicer expressed being “troubled” by the move.

“It’s disappointing and it sends a very troubling message when it comes to the handling of classified information and to the consequences of those who leak information that threatens the security of our nation,” Spicer told reporters.

Questions have since arisen over whether Trump can further punish the former soldier in spite of her commutation, The Washington Post reported, but it remains unclear if he has the authority to do so.

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