President Donald Trump has blasted former Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning, describing her as a traitor and accusing her of being ungrateful to former President Barack Obama, who had commuted her prison sentence.
Manning had penned an editorial asserting that Obama's presidency was evidence that the U.S. requires an unapologetic progressive as president, but Trump's latest statement appears to be in response to how a Fox News segment had framed the former private's op-ed.
On Jan. 26, Trump took to social media to blast Manning, asserting that she had disrespected Obama, CNN reports.
"Ungrateful TRAITOR Chelsea Manning, who should never have been released from prison, is now calling President Obama a weak leader," Trump tweeted out. "Terrible!"
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Manning had been previously sentenced to 35 years in military prison for leaking documents to WikiLeaks. During his final days in office, Obama had commuted her sentence, setting her to be released May 17. Shortly after the announcement, Manning had thanked Obama on social media "for giving me a chance."
On Jan. 26, Manning had asserted that Obama should not have compromised on progressive goals during his presidency. Despite her critique, the former private did not refer to Obama as a weak leader but was instead more critical of GOP lawmakers.
"For eight years, it did not matter how balanced President Obama was," Manning wrote in an editorial for The Guardian. "It did not matter how educated he was, or how intelligent he was. Nothing was ever good enough for his opponents. It was clear that he could not win."
Manning concluded that the lesson that progressives should draw from Obama's presidency was "do not start off with a compromise. They won't meet you in the middle. Instead, what we need is an unapologetic progressive leader."
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Trump's reaction to Manning's editorial appears to have been influenced by how it was described by a segment on Fox News' "Fox and Friends." While describing Manning's op-ed, commentator Abby Huntsman had said that the former private had called Obama "a weak leader with few permanent accomplishments."
Manning had not directly made such an accusation, but Trump fired off his tweet minutes after the Fox News segment. Advisers of Trump have told Axios that the president spends most of his mornings watching political talk shows such as MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and "Fox and Friends," adding that many of his tweets are in response to the commentary that occurs during these programs.
Following the president's statement on Manning, WikiLeaks' social media account responded in defense of the former private.
"Trump is wrong," WikiLeaks tweeted out. "Manning was found innocent of 'aiding the enemy' & Pentagon admitted under oath no-one harmed."
WikiLeaks followed up by retweeting former statements made by Trump calling Obama a weak leader, adding: "Trump denounces Manning for agreeing with him."
While his recent remarks about Obama have largely been complimentary, Trump has previously been very critical of the former president. In August 2016, Trump had asserted that Obama was "the worst president, maybe in the history of our country."
"I think he'd been a disaster," Trump told Fox News. "He's been weak, he's been ineffective."
Trump has previously been complimentary of WikiLeaks as well. After the website leaked a trove of hacked emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, Trump used the data to blast his opponent on the campaign trail. During the final 30 days of the presidential race, Trump was recorded citing WikiLeaks 164 times, according to ThinkProgress.
"I love WikiLeaks," Trump said during a Pennsylvania rally in October 2016, according to The Hill. "It's amazing how nothing is secret today when you talk about the Internet."