Interviews

John McCain reacts to Chelsea Manning commutation

Arizona Senator joins 'The O'Reilly Factor' to discuss President Obama's decision

 

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 18, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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O'REILLY: FACTOR "Follow-Up" segment tonight. Private Chelsea Manning, who is used to be Bradley Manning, is serving 35 years of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas convicted of multiple charges under the espionage act. Manning leaked hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks, some of which put people in physical danger in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. Yesterday, the President commuted Manning's sentence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The sentence that she received was very disproportional -- disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received. And that she had to serve a significant amount of time. That it made sense to commute.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: Private Manning will be released in a few months.

And joining us now from Washington, Senator John McCain. So, your reaction to the commutation?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE CHAIR: Rage, frustration, and sorrow. Sorrow for the families of those individuals who identified in these leaks in Afghanistan that the Taliban went after and murdered. And rage because this President is basically endorsing a proposal that allows someone to go free who is responsible for the needless deaths of those people who are allies. But do you say to their families, Bill?

O'REILLY: How do you know that Manning's leaks directly led to a person's death? Did you get reports that they --

MCCAIN: I got reports that the Taliban went after the people that were identified in these reports. And by the way, why wouldn't they?

O'REILLY: Sure. I mean, and I just wanted to know if it was specific leaks that came to you as a Senator which showed what WikiLeaks did with Manning's help killed people that were helping the USA.

MCCAIN: Let me be specific. The information I received when I was there was that the Taliban went after these people. I assume, killed them.

O'REILLY: Okay. I guess Manning has served seven years, something like that, and then, President Obama says, that is enough. I mean, that is commiserate with what she did.

MCCAIN: Of course, that is outrageous. What is more egregious than providing the enemy with information that would help them, which over time, then, puts the lives of the men and women serving in uniform and greater danger? And is there any argument that anyone could have that WikiLeaks didn't do that?

O'REILLY: So, you believe that the President is misguided and his sympathies here. Do you think it has anything to do with the private being transgender?

MCCAIN: I have no idea what the motivation is. I understand that there were a lot of people who were arguing for this commutation but I can't expect -- I would expect any commander-in-chief before commuting the sentence of someone of this nature would consult with our military leaders. You'd think that he called that the chairman of the Joint-Chief-of-Staff? What do you think about this?

O'REILLY: You know, his own Secretary of Defense said, don't do it.

MCCAIN: Nor did any of our military leaders.

O'REILLY: All right. Friday, Trump becomes president. You and he have a strained relationship. Have you spoken with him since he won the election?

MCCAIN: I have spoken to him twice. And both times, it was about appointments. And by the way, I have very good and strong relationship with the Vice President-elect, with General Mattis, with General Kelly, with General Flynn. There's a lot of people around the Vice President- elect, as I mentioned. And so, I have been talking with them a lot. Reince Priebus, as well, about appointments. So, we just got legislation passed today so that we can confirm General Mattis as Secretary of Defense right after the inauguration, immediately the same day. So, we have been working in some areas together.

O'REILLY: Okay. The big difference between you and Donald Trump at this point is Russia. Do you feel you will be able to convince him to take a harder line against Putin?

MCCAIN: I certainly hope others around him can. I know how General Mattis feels. I know how General Flynn feels. I know how even Mr. Tillerson feels. Look, we cannot reward misbehavior. We have to go back to Ronald Reagan, peace through strength, get strong, and then deal with them. And that way is the only way we can get there.

O'REILLY: So, he lift sanctions. If Trump lift sanctions, you're not going to be real pleased?

MCCAIN: I am going to be deeply, deeply disappointed. And by the way, so are all the people in the Baltic countries and in Ukraine and in Georgia, that right now, are under the threat of military action by Vladimir Putin.

O'REILLY: Okay. Finally, the boycott has not extended to the Senate. There are Congress people, as you know, dozens has done it. Democrats not showing up to the inauguration. But the Senate has held. Why is that? Why aren't the senators, the Democratic senators, some of them far left, why aren't they boycotting?

MCCAIN: Well, I say with typical Senate snobbery, we are not to like that.

(LAUGHTER)

O'REILLY: They are the school kids, you are the professors. Right?

MCCAIN: Yes. I think that they have smaller constituencies and more narrow constituencies. My colleagues, and some cases, represent millions of people. And so, I think they are respecting the peaceful transition of power, which is characterized most successful experiment in democracy in history.

O'REILLY: All right. Senator, we always appreciated. Thanks very much.

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