As Barack Obama delivered the commutation to Chelsea Manning's 35 year sentence down to 7, would President-elect Donald Trump have the ability to reverse that when he becomes President?


2 Answers 2



The power of a Presidential Pardon comes from the Constitution (Article II, Section 2) and there is no provision for undoing it.

  • 4
    Does it matter that it's a commutation with a future date instead of an immediate pardon?
    – Bobson
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 23:56
  • 39
    @Bobson No, a commutation is a reduction in sentence. Obama has effectively reduced Manning's sentence by many years. There is no Constitutional power afforded the president to lengthen a sentence, that would invite retribution on political enemies
    – JRaymond
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 0:35
  • 8
    There's a chance he can try to get Manning re-charged with something else, but I'm unsure how Double Jeopardy would play with that (I asked on Law.SE)
    – user4012
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 0:47
  • 4
    It's worth noting that commutation of a sentence and a pardon are slightly different when it comes to what rights Manning will have when she is released. There are certain civil rights which are regained when pardoned that are not when your sentence is commuted.
    – Christy
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 13:01
  • 6
    In theory you're right, in practice they can just jail chelsea manning again for any reason they like. The US government has long been in the habit of jailing american citizens indefinitely without trial if it suits them particularly.
    – Magisch
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 15:05

No, the commutation has been entered so that is set. However he did not pardon the Private, he just commuted the sentence.

Manning was convicted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice in a general Courts Martial, not in the Federal Court of law. Double jeopardy and the protection of the 5th amendment prohibition of such, does not apply here, with regards to the Federal Criminal courts. So in theory the DoJ could pursue federal criminal charges which may include espionage, treason, and many other serious charges.

While this is possible, I do not think it will happen, unless Manning decides to go out and make a spectacle of herself. This is likely a case where the government will be happy to allow Manning to drop out of the public limelight rather than keep the whole affair under a spotlight.

  • I think what you mean is that double jeopardy doesn't protect someone who has been convicted of military charges in a military court against prosecution in a civilian court on civilian charges arising from the same acts, not that it doesn't apply at all. If it didn't apply at all, then the DoD could try Manning once again on the same charges for the same offences.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 17:08
  • @Phoog yes I clarified that. Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 21:34
  • 1
    @DrunkenSanta9035768 - I know there were a lot of questions about what actions by "contractors" were actually prosecuteable during the Iraq occupation, because of the lack of a civilian government and lack of civilian jurisdiction for the USA government. That would be an interesting one to delve into further. Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 21:43

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