Chelsea Manning on Sunday kicked off her 2018 campaign for the Senate by releasing a video that attacks current congressional leadership for leading the country into a ruinous state, emphasizing what she portrayed as Democrats' unwillingness to stand up to President Donald Trump.
Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst who was convicted of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents and sentenced to 35 years in prison, has launched a bid to challenge Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in the Democratic primary this June.
"We live in trying times, times of fear, of suppression, of hate," Manning says in the campaign ad, with images of protesters clashing with police and young men marching with tiki torches flashing across the screen.
"We don't need more or better leaders," Manning says. "We need someone willing to fight."
"We need to stop asking them to give us our rights. They won't support us. They won't compromise," Manning continues as video of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) meeting with Trump at the White House play on screen. The video also shows Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and Vice President Mike Pence in the room.
The ad then shows a headline from an article in the Intercept published Friday titled, "The Same Democrats Who Denounce Donald Trump as a Lawless, Treasonous Authoritarian Just Voted to Give Him Vast Warrantless Spying Powers." The piece discussed the House passing a bill to renew the National Security Agency's warrantless internet surveillance program, noting that Democrats ultimately sided with the Trump administration by voting for the legislation.
"We need to stop expecting that our systems will somehow fix themselves," Manning says. "We need to actually take the reins of power from them. We need to challenge them at every level. We need to fix this."
"We don't need them anymore," she concludes. "We can do better."
This is not the first time that Manning—whose prison sentence was commuted by then-President Barack Obama in January 2017, after serving seven years—has criticized Democratic lawmakers. In July, she chastised Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) and MSNBC host Joy Reid for being "more of the same."
Manning, a transgender woman, was released from a U.S. military prison in May. She had passed on troves of U.S. secrets to WikiLeaks in the biggest breach of classified data in U.S. history.