President Obama, at his final press conference in office, on Wednesday defended his controversial decision to commute the bulk of Chelsea Manning’s 35-year prison term for leaking classified documents – claiming the former intelligence analyst served a “tough” sentence, and disputing the notion that clemency could embolden future leakers.
“I feel very comfortable that justice has been served and that a message has still been sent,” the president said.
The president has faced mounting bipartisan criticism over the commutation, announced as part of a wave of clemency decisions a day earlier. Manning, who has served more than six years of the 35-year sentence, will now be released in May.
To detractors warning the decision set a dangerous precedent, the president pushed back.