What prompted the early morning tweet was unknown, but Manning this morning wrote an op-ed for the Guardian, her first since Obama commuted her 35-year sentence, calling for firm Democratic leadership after eight years of compromise under Obama.
Trump’s words, however, weren’t quite his own.
Ungrateful TRAITOR Chelsea Manning, who should never have been released from prison, is now calling President Obama a weak leader. Terrible!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2017
Fourteen minutes prior to Trump sending out his tweet, Fox & Friends First anchor Abby Huntsman began her segment on the same topic by calling Manning “less than grateful” to Obama and interpreting Manning’s op-ed as calling Obama a “weak leader,” according to a segment transcript from Mediaite:
“Chelsea Manning sounding less than grateful to President Obama for cutting nearly twenty-five years off of her sentence for leaking unclassified information. In a new article for The Guardian, the disgraced former Army private is slamming President Obama as a weak leader with few permanent accomplishments.”
Others saw the direct correlation between Trump’s tweet and the Fox News segment, too.
14 minutes apart: Fox says "ungrateful traitor," Trump says "ungrateful traitor," Fox says "weak leader," Trump says "weak leader." pic.twitter.com/f7urTOUG1L
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 26, 2017
This kind of call-and-response is nothing new for Trump—he often tweets in response to something he’s watched on cable news. But this morning Fox News took Trump’s response one step further by using his tweet in a later segment on double standards regarding the pardons of classified information leaks, Manning’s included.
In the segment Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt spoke with Kathleen Saucier, the mother of Kristian Saucier, a Navy machinist who was sentenced to one year in prison for taking photos inside an engine room of a nuclear submarine.
Saucier argued that there is a double standard and a “clear injustice” regarding classified information—her son is serving time for photos he never sent, she said, while Manning and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton were both at the center of larger leaks, but were given clemency and not indicted, respectively.
“Donald Trump, it seems that he would agree with you, this is his tweet this morning,” Earhardt said, then reading off Trump’s tweet in which he repeated phrases from the Fox & Friends First segment earlier that day.
“What’s your reaction?” Earhardt asked Saucier.
Trump has yet to respond to Saucier’s plea for her son’s pardon.