WASHINGTON, D.C. - If President Barack Obama thought he could leave the Oval Office under the radar this week, he was wrong. Critics on both sides of the political aisle are ticked off that he used his presidential pardon authority to commute Chelsea Manning's 35-year sentence for espionage.
Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana says, "The guy's a traitor, and I'm disappointed."
Manning is a transgender woman who served in the US army as Bradley Manning. In 2010, she was convicted of stealing classified material and giving it to Wikileaks. After seven years in the slammer, she'll be free in May.
"It was just wrong. That was treason, espionage. Should have been 35 years,” says Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says, "I think anybody would be hard pressed to suggest that almost seven years behind bars at the Leavenworth prison is going easy on her.”
"Due process was carried out,” Obama said. "And she took responsibility for her crime."
Those defending the president's decision say Manning owned up to her crimes and expressed remorse; two factors which carried weight with Obama. But not so much with his critics like Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey. “Hundreds of thousands of documents were released. It put national security at risk. It put individual operatives at risk."
"There is some irony that I hope isn't lost here on people that a lot of criticism of the president's decision is coming from individuals in the Republican party who supported a candidate who applauded Wikileaks,” said Jen Psaki, Communications Director.
Clearly, it's not only Republicans questioning the president's decision.
So much for becoming a private citizen with a quiet exit.....