The motive behind President Barack Obama’s decision to grant clemency to whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been met with bewilderment in many political circles, but one CNN commentator believes he has the answer: it’s because Chelsea Manning is transgender.
Senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny offered his controversial opinion during a Tuesday afternoon segment on Manning’s commuted sentence.
“How much was the personal story of Chelsea Manning involved in this? Because the outcry from the left was so strong on this,” Zeleny wondered.
“You know, she’s having a difficult time in federal prison, no question. But, to me, that is a central question here. Without that, you have to wonder if the outcome would be the same,” he continued.
Perhaps noticing that Zeleny was dancing around his point, co-host Alyson Camerota interjected: “You mean because she’s transitioned,” to which Zeleny responds affirmatively.
Chelsea Manning was arrested in 2010 – when she still identified as Bradley Manning – on charges that she violated the Espionage Act by funneling hundreds of thousands of sensitive military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks.
Although she is currently serving a 35-year sentence, Obama’s last-minute clemency will see Manning get released in May, after about 7 years behind bars.
Manning was placed under suicide watch after she threatened to kill herself unless the Army gave her proper treatment for medically diagnosed gender dysphoria. Her protest culminated in a late 2016 decision to provide her with sex reassignment surgery, making Manning the first inmate to switch sexes while in government custody.