Trump To Look ‘Very Strongly’ at Granting Snowden a Pardon
Aug. 17, 2020 (EIRNS)—President Donald Trump said Aug. 15 that he is considering granting whistleblower Edward Snowden a pardon, USA Today reported. The President said, “I’m going to take a look at that very strongly,” during a press conference at the President’s golf resort in New Jersey. Reportedly, this was Trump’s second allusion in recent days to possibly pardoning Snowden, which drew an immediate war-whoop against it from Capitol Hill.
Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, has been living in exile in Moscow since fleeing the U.S. six years ago, after leaking information on the most secretive U.S. spy agencies’ mass surveillance programs. His revelations of the extent of NSA, CIA, and other intelligence agencies’ gathering of conversations and emails, were a shock to ordinary citizens, as well as to many in government. Snowden’s revelations set off an intense debate on government eavesdropping, as some viewed Snowden as a hero, and others as a traitor. House Armed Service Committee chair Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) and ranking member Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) jointly reacted to Trump’s comment, “Edward Snowden did enormous harm to our national security and he must stand trial for his actions.” These two evidently confused the personal security of those who lied to Congress about surveillance as James Clapper and John Brennan, or British MI6 and GCHQ officials, with what they called “our national security.”
President Trump told USA Today that he is “not that aware of the Snowden situation,” but that people on both the left and the right are divided over Snowden’s status. “It seems to be a split decision,” the President said. “Many people think he should be somehow treated differently, and other people think he did very bad things.” In an interview with the New York Post, published on Aug. 13, Trump had also raised the question of whether Snowden should be given a pardon, saying, “There are a lot of people that think he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that.” The New York Post reported that Trump polled members of his staff about whether to let Snowden return to the U.S. without going to prison. Trump further acknowledged to the Post, “Many people are on his side, I will say that. I don’t know him; never met him. But many people are on his side.”
The President well knows of the surveillance Snowden exposed, including against him. In the interview, he justified discussion of a pardon by again raising the FBI’s investigation into links between his campaign staff and the Russians, who supposedly aimed to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. President Trump told the Post that it was unfair that people like former FBI Director James Comey are free while Snowden is in legal limbo.
Snowden welcomed the news about President Trump’s consideration in an Aug. 14 tweet: “The last time we heard a White House considering a pardon was 2016, when the very same Attorney General who once charged me, conceded that, on balance, my work in exposing the NSA’s unconstitutional system of mass surveillance had been ‘a public service.’ ” But Federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Snowden in 2013, charging him with theft, “unauthorized communication of national defense information” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.” In late 2016, then-President Barack Obama said he “wouldn’t consider a pardon until Snowden stopped running from the law,” wrote USA Today.