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Chelsea Manning Explains That Picture of Her With Known Alt-Righters

Chelsea Manning will soon be courting votes as she prepares to challenge incumbent Maryland Senator Ben Cardin for his seat in the US Senate. But, for now, she’s courting controversy. Earlier in January, Manning garnered criticism for a photo that seemed to depict her attending an Escape the Room DC event with alt-right personalities like Gateway Pundit correspondent Lucian Wintrich and Trump supporter (who has publicly said she is not alt right) Cassandra Fairbanks. In a new interview with the Daily Beast, Manning opened up about the controversial snapshot.

Twitter personality Yashar Ali tweeted out the picture of Manning and company on January 21. The picture came out only a few days after a BuzzFeed report about Manning attending a pro-Trump gala.

Manning initially defended her presence at the rally with a series of tweets saying she “crashed” the fascist party and that, while incarcerated, she learned to confront her enemies face-to-face.

Manning said the picture stemmed from an attempt to connect with Fairbanks because of her connections to many alt-right influencers, though she never intended to be friends with Fairbanks. Manning said they had coffee at a Maryland Starbucks.

“After we started talking I realized that she kept on telling me things about the alt-right and what was going on,” Manning told the Beast. “I made it clear that I disagree with many of her positions politically, but she just continued to talk to me and even tell me things in confidence that quite frankly surprised me at first.”

Manning says after their initial meeting, Fairbanks invited her to go to Escape the Room with friends and that Manning had no idea who the friends would be.

“I viewed this as an opportunity to use the celebrity and fame I’ve gotten since getting out of prison to gather information and to ultimately find ways in which we who are against the alt-right can undermine the alt-right,” Manning told the Beast.
Manning also attended a party at Wintrich’s home. Wintrich shared pictures of the evening on his Twitter earlier this week.

“The thing in all this that I’ve learned is that they don’t actually believe the things that they say. I just feel they’re opportunists and that they exploit their Twitter followers’ fears,” Manning said about the evening.

Manning said “people have every right to be confused and hurt by this,” and said that “no amount of information on the alt-right is worth losing the trust of my supporters.”

According to Manning, she did share some of the information she learned that night with anti-fascist organizers.

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