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President Obama Defends Commuting Chelsea Manning’s Sentence in Final Press Conference

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President Obama does not believe his decision to shorten the sentence of Chelsea Manning will signal his support for leaking state secrets.

The President’s remarks follow a defense put forward by his White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest earlier on Wednesday. The White House has faced backlash because of his decision, largely from Congressional Republicans. The President announced his decision to commute Manning’s sentence from 35 years to time served plus 120 days on Tuesday evening. Her sentence will expire on May 17, 2017.

“Let’s be clear Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence,” President Obama said during his final press conference on Wednesday. “The notion that the average person who is thinking about exposing vital classified information will think that it goes unpunished; I don’t think would get that impression from the sentence that Chelsea Manning has served.”

The President said the time Manning was sentenced to was “disproportionate” to the sentences other whistleblowers have faced. “I feel very comfortable that justice has still been served,” Obama said.

“It has been my view that given she went to trial, that due process was carried out, that she took responsibility for her crime, 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, that it made sense to commute and not pardon her sentence,” Obama said.

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