Former Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Harvard University made the right decision to rescind its offer to Chelsea Manning for a visiting fellowship at the Kennedy School of Government.
Spicer appeared on “Fox & Friends” Friday morning for his first news appearance since he resigned from his position at the White House in August.
During the conversation, Spicer was asked about Manning who, along with Spicer and other notable politicians and political figures, was invited to join Harvard Kennedy School as visiting fellows.
After Wednesday’s announcement Manning would be invited, there was widespread backlash from other invitees, current fellows, Harvard employees, and politicians. Manning, then named “Bradley,” was convicted in 2013 for violating the espionage act and leaking classified national security documents to wikileaks. The former Army private faced a maximum 90 year prison sentence and was ultimately sentenced to 35 years. Manning, however, ended up serving seven years in prison before his sentence was commuted by then President Barack Obama in 2017 immediately before he left office.
Fox host Steve Doocy asked Spicer what his thoughts were regarding the fellowship and Manning. He first listed examples of the the backlash that Harvard received for the initial invite.
“Yesterday Mike Pompeo said he wasn’t going to speak [at Harvard], Mike Morrel stepped down as a senior fellow, Congresswomen Liz Cheney called on the government to withhold federal funds,” said Doocy.
“And at midnight, Sean, Harvard put out the word that apparently they had changed their mind. They made a mistake, and Chelsea Manning would not get the invitation to be a visiting fellow,” Doocy said.
Spicer said Harvard “made the right decision” and “appreciates the fact that Harvard has recognized that it was a mistake.”
“They made the right ultimate decision,” Spicer said. “I think we can have an open and honest discussion about the ideas and policies of this country. But at the end of the day, we are a nation of laws and I appreciate the ultimate decision that Harvard made–it’s the right one.”
The former press secretary said that although “there is a need in this country to have civil discourse,” it is a different situation entirely to invite invite a convicted criminal for the fellowship.
After Harvard rescinded its invitation to Manning, she took to Twitter to express her distaste with the decision, and said she was “honored” to be “the first trans woman Harvard fellow” to be uninvited. In the tweet, she included a link to the CIA’s tweet that included a statement from CIA Director Pompeo. The director had announced his decision not to speak at the university, and also said he supported former acting CIA Director Michael Morell’s decision to resign a separate fellowship.
— Chelsea E. Manning (@xychelsea) September 15, 2017
Spicer still plans to appear as a visiting fellow at Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
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