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President Obama had taken criticism from GOP Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Sen. John McCain for commuting Manning’s sentence. Chelsea Manning, 29, originally convicted for her actions as Bradley Manning, has already served six years and has attempted suicide twice in the last six months.
Obama noted, “Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence . . . she took responsibility for her crime, (and) the sentence that she received was very disproportional — disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received . . . it sense to commute — and not pardon — her sentence.”
President Obama was asked to pardon Manning by fellow whistleblower Edward Snowden. WikiLeaks head Julian Assange has also asked for clemency for Manning.
Manning is expected to get out in May of 2017. She is being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
In separate actions Wednesday the Justice Department and White House officially denied commutation of the life sentence of Native American activist Leonard Peltier, 72, accused in the shooting deaths of two FBI agents in 1975. No reason was given. Pope Francis Tuesday sent a letter to the White House endorsing clemency for Peltier.
To view the full official transcript of the press conference, click HERE.
In concluding his remarks at the press conference, Obama said, “Sometimes I get mad and frustrated, like everybody else does. But at my core, I think we’re going to be okay. We just have to fight for it. We have to work for it, and not take it for granted. And I know that you (the press corps) will help us do that.”
President Elect Donald Trump gets sworn in as the 45th President Friday and comes in with a no better than 44 percent approval rating. Obama closed his presidency with a 60 percent approval rating.
— C.L. and H.E.