Chelsea Manning, Sean Spicer named as visiting Harvard fellows

Sean Spicer in the lobby of Trump Tower in November 2016. File photo by REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and former White House press secretary Sean Spicer have been named visiting fellows at Harvard University, the school announced Wednesday.

Manning will be the first transgender fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School.

"We welcome the breadth of thought-provoking viewpoints on race, gender, politics and the media," Harvard Institute of Politics Acting Director Bill Delahunt said in a statement.

Manning, a transgender activist and security expert, was released from prison in May 2017 after President Barack Obama commuted her 35-year sentence for released classified documents to WikiLeaks. Mr. Obama said Manning's punishment was "disproportionate" for a government whistleblower. Manning currently writes op-ed columns for The Guardian and The New York Times.

Spicer, known for acerbic exchanges with reporters during his tenure at the White House, resigned as press secretary and acting communications director in July. Political analysts have been watching for where Spicer would end up next. He has since signed with a company that represents public speakers, and Politico reported the former press secretary is considering writing a book.

Harvard says the latest visiting fellows will lead study groups, attend the school's activities and cover subjects specific to their backgrounds, including cybersecurity, White House communications and LGBTQ identity in the military.

Kansas City Mayor Sylvester "Sly" James Jr. and Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign manager, will also be Harvard fellows for the 2017-18 school year. That list already includes other well-known political operatives and commentators, such as former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and MSNBC's "Morning Joe" hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

UPDATE, Sept. 14: Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell resigned Thursday from his position as senior fellow at Harvard University in protest of Chelsea Manning's appointment as a visiting fellow. "I cannot be a part of an organization-The Kennedy School- that honors a convicted felon and leaker of classified information," Morell wrote in his resignation letter to the dean of the Harvard Kennedy School.

Though Morell expressed his support of Manning's rights as a transgender American, as well as her right to discuss her experiences for the sake of education, he called it his "duty" to protest the school's decision.

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