CNN reporter Jeff Zeleny argued on Tuesday that President Obama commuted Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence because the former Army private is transitioning from a man to a woman.
“I think the question this president and the White House will have to answer here, will answer, and I think it’s an important one, how much was the personal story of Chelsea Manning involved in this,” Zeleny said in a panel discussion of the White House decision.
Manning, who was formerly known as “Bradley,” was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 on espionage charges for stealing nearly one million classified documents and leaking them to WikiLeaks.
The former Army private has since become a hero to many on the left, not just because she leaked information to WikiLeaks, but because she is transitioning from a man to a woman.
“The outcry from the left was so strong on this, and she’s having a difficult time in federal prison, no question, but to me that is a central question. Without that, you have to wonder if the outcome would be the same,” Zeleny continued.
“Because she transitioned?” another panelist asked.
“Exactly, because she transitioned from a man to a woman. I think all of that certainly played into this. Without that, it’s hard to imagine, I think, this president would have done that.”