Vice President-elect Mike Pence showed the steel that resides under his soft-spoken exterior when he slammed President Barack Obama for commuting the sentence of an American “traitor.”
Pence: “To commute Private Manning’s sentence was a mistake. Private Manning is a traitor & should not have been turned into a martyr.” pic.twitter.com/ytf42ohxXq
— Fox News (@FoxNews) January 18, 2017
“To commute Private Manning’s sentence was a mistake,” Pence said Wednesday night as he lashed out at the president’s decision to commute Chelsea Manning’s 35-year prison sentence for releasing classified documents to WikiLeaks. Manning was sentenced as Army Private Bradley Manning.
“Private Manning is a traitor and should not have been turned into a martyr,” Pence said during an interview with Brett Baier of Fox News.
“Private Manning’s actions compromised our national security, endangered American personnel downrange, compromised individuals in Afghanistan who were cooperating with our forces by leaking 750,000 documents to WikiLeaks,” he continued.
Pence said the nation must do more to protect its secrets, and Obama’s action works against that goal.
“I disagree very strongly with the president’s decision to commute Private Manning’s sentence. We have to be so serious on the subject of protecting our nation’s secrets, and so we’ll register strong disagreement with that,” Pence added.
Pence said President-elect Donald Trump and his team are “committed to protecting our nation’s secrets” and would “bring to bear the law” on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange if he surrenders to U.S. authorities.
In discussing the role of WikiLeaks in the 2016 presidential campaign, Pence noted that there is a distinction to be made between whether information is useful and the means used to obtain it.
“I think what the president-elect has said is that the information that came out through WikiLeaks — which has never been questioned as having been real information, real emails that were verified — was useful to many Americans, but that doesn’t mean he agrees with or that we endorse the tactics or the actions of Julian Assange,” Pence said.
Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer also noted that the Obama administration’s criticism of some information leaks does not square well with commuting the sentence of someone who broke the law to release information.
“After the outrage we’ve seen about the other leaks that have come up, to see someone who has given away the country’s secrets and then convicted of it … it’s disappointing and it sends a very troubling message when it comes to the handling of classified information,” Spicer said.
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