- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 17, 2017

CNN’s Jake Tapper expressed befuddlement on Tuesday after it was announced that President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, the transgender Army intelligence analyst convicted of leaking national secrets in 2010.

A 35-year prison sentence for the former Army private first class, who handed over 700,000 documents and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, will end May 17. Mr. Tapper told a panel of guests that Mr. Obama’s decision went against the political grain of his tenure in the White House.

“President Obama has used the Espionage [Act] to go after leakers more than every other president in history combined,” Mr. Tapper said. “This has been a hallmark of his administration. It’s something a lot of us in the media have objected to time and time again. And here is commuting the sentence of one of the most notorious leakers — you could argue that Chelsea Manning did it for a good reason, to expose war crimes or whatever case you want to make —  but it certainly contradicts the last eight years of policy in terms of leaking.”

The host then read a statement by Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas — himself a combat veteran — excoriating the White House.

“When I was leading soldiers in Afghanistan, Private Manning was undermining us by leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks,” the senator said in a statement. “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.”

Mr. Tapper then said that Mr. Cotton’s statement accurately reflected the way White House officials previously described the solider.

Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard said that Mr. Obama’s decision was “great news for Donald Trump,” since the intelligence would likely be livid with the outgoing commander in chief.

“The national security and intelligence community are pretty upset —in my judgment, rightfully so — about some of the things Donald Trump has been saying about them, and now they’re going to spend the rest of this week being more upset, I suspect, about President Obama.”

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