Trump calls Chelsea Manning ‘he’ in attack on transgender soldier

Chelsea Manning smiling

The President of the United States has referred to a transgender woman as a man.

Donald Trump made the comments while defending his pardon for Sherrif Joe Arpaio, a hero of white supremacists who openly targeted Latinos and bragged about running a ‘concentration camp’ style prison.

Speaking at a White House press conference, Trump defended the pardon for Arpaio by comparing him to Chelsea Manning, who was jailed for exposing US war crimes by leaking classified documents.

Trump said: “Sheriff Joe is a great veteran of the military, great law enforcement person, somebody that’s won many, many elections in the state of Arizona. But I wanted to look at some of the other people that were pardoned over the years.

“Criminal leaker. You’ve heard the word ‘leaker’? President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, who leaked countless sensitive and classified documents to WikiLeaks, perhaps and others… a horrible, horrible thing that he did.

“[Obama] commuted the sentence and perhaps pardoned.”

Chelsea Manning

Trump’s claims are highly inaccurate, as unlike Arpaio, Chelsea Manning did not receive a pardon for her crimes.

In fact, she served seven years in prison before her sentence was commuted by President Obama, in order to mitigate a harsh ruling that would have seen her spend decades behind bars.

Trump also retweeted a Fox News pundit who falsely claimed Obama “pardoned a traitor who gave US enemies state secrets”.

In one of his final acts as President, Barack Obama commuted the sentence of Pvt Chelsea Manning, who had been imprisoned in Fort Leavenworth military prison.

Manning, came out as a transgender woman in 2013, has been denied the right to transition behind bars, leading her to make several suicide attempts.

The prisoner, who was jailed in 2010, had been facing a 35-year prison sentence, but after Obama used executive power to drastically reduced the sentence, it concluded in May.

The freed soldier officially remains on active duty within the Army on unpaid “excess leave”.

In a statement, an emotional Manning thanked former President Obama for freeing her to live as herself.

Trump’s comments about perhaps the most notable transgender person to serve in the armed forces come as he enacts policy to ban transgender people from serving.

The Trump administration is moving forward this month with plans to purge transgender troops from the military, after a hasty announcement on Twitter last month.

Trump had claimed that transgender people were too much of a “burden”, threatening to dismiss the thousands of out trans people who are already serving in the US Armed Forces.

Trump’s ban, which is moving towards implementation this month, was announced without consulting military leaders and has been condemned by a string of retired Generals.

Related: You have to read Iraq war hero Tammy Duckworth’s powerful takedown of Trump transgender ban