White House press secretary Josh Earnest defended President Barack Obama's decision to commute the prison sentence of soldier Chelsea Manning, who was convicted of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks.
He also accused Republicans of being hypocritical in their criticism of the move.
Earnest told "CBS This Morning" on Wednesday that Obama was interested in "making sure justice was served" for Manning, who received a 35-year sentence. Earnest pointed out that Manning did express remorse and, noting the six years already spent in prison, said "you'd be hard pressed to make the case that somehow the justice system went easy on her."
Earnest stressed that "The thing that I think is outrageous is for Republicans to say is that somehow Chelsea Manning deserves a more serious punishment because of her collusion with Wikileaks and its damage to the country when they endorsed a man for president of the United States who praised Wikileaks, who encouraged people to go and check out Wikileaks and who encouraged Wikileaks to collude with the Russians to hack his opponent. It is outrageous for them to suggest that somehow right now that what Chelsea Manning did is worse than what the man who they endorsed for president did."
He also touched on the importance of the press covering the incoming Trump administration, telling CNN's "New Day" that "The role of journalists in our democracy has also never been more important."
Story continues below video.
Earnest said that he had debates and disagreements with the press, "And that's how it should be. The White House press corps has a responsibility to hold people in power accountable and to ask tough questions. And that can be uncomfortable.Even for people who are doing the right thing for the right reasons. But it's necessary for our democracy."
The White House press secretary told CNN that "in many ways for the next four years the job of journalists who work here every day has never been more important, so we're going to be counting on all of you to keep asking those tough questions."
Regarding specifically the Trump administration's plans to possibly move the press corps out of the West Wing, Earnest told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that "I don't think we should be reflectively opposed to changes," because every administration seeks to make reforms, "but I do think it is important to protect some of the traditions that are uniquely American that gives the White House press corps . . . access that they need to closely cover the president and hold people in power accountable for their actions."
Story continues below video.
Earnest also said that the president is increasingly confident of the ability to protect Obamacare and its benefits, because while Democrats are united in that cause, Republicans remain divided as they still have no concrete plan on how to replace the Affordable Care Act.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.