Spicer: Harvard ‘Made the Right Decision’ to Rescind Manning Visiting Fellowship Invite

• September 15, 2017 10:53 am


Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday that 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" for his first appearance on the show since he resigned from his position at the White House earlier this summer.

During the conversation, Spicer was asked about Manning, who, along with Spicer and other notable political figures, was invited to join Harvard's Kennedy School as visiting fellows.

After Harvard announced Wednesday that 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 of 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 ended up serving seven years in prison before his sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama shortly before he left office in January.

Fox News host Steve Doocy asked Spicer for his thoughts on the fellowship and Manning. He first listed examples of the the backlash that Harvard received for the initial invite.

"Yesterday [CIA Director] Mike Pompeo said he wasn't going to speak [at Harvard], [former acting CIA Director] Mike Morrel stepped down as a senior fellow, Congresswomen Liz Cheney called on the government to withhold federal funds," Doocy said.

"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 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After Harvard rescinded its invitation to Manning, she took to Twitter to express her distaste with the decision, and said she was "honored" to be "the first trans woman Harvard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 Pompeo. The director had announced his decision not to speak at the university, and also said he supported Morell's decision to resign a separate fellowship.

Spicer still plans to appear as a visiting fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.