Top Republicans blasted President Barack Obama on Jan. 17 for commuting the sentence of former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, after she leaked classified military and government documents.
"This is just outrageous," House Speaker Paul Ryan wrote in a statement posted to his Twitter page. "Chelsea Manning's treachery put American lives at risk and exposed some of our nation's most sensitive secrets. President Obama now leaves in place a dangerous precedent that those who compromise our national security won't be held accountable for their crimes."
Ryan is not the only GOP member speaking against Obama's move, which came during his final four days as president. Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas also joined Ryan in questioning the president's judgment.
"When I was leading soldiers in Afghanistan, Private Manning was undermining us by leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks," Cotton said in a statement posted to his official website. "I don't understand why the president would feel special compassion for someone who endangered the lives of our troops, diplomats, intelligence officers, and allies. We ought not treat a traitor like a martyr."
Manning has served more than six years of her 35-year sentence, the highest out of any comparable whistleblower case, notes the ACLU. The transgender woman, formerly known and convicted as Bradley Manning, has reportedly attempted suicide twice and faced mental health battles while serving in all-male federal prison. Her supporters say that she does not have access to medically-necessary healthcare and has been mistreated in prison.
"Ms. Manning is the longest serving whistleblower in the history of the United States," Manning's appellate counselors, Nancy Hollander and Vince Ward, said in a statement, according to the ACLU. "Her 35-year sentence for disclosing information that served the public interest and never caused harm to the United States was always excessive, and we're delighted that justice is being served in the form of this commutation."
Manning's release date is set for May 2017.