Will Trump pardon Snowden? Republicans sharply divided over whistleblower’s fate

Will Trump pardon Snowden? Republicans sharply divided over whistleblower’s fate


Will Trump pardon Snowden? Republicans sharply divided over whistleblower’s fate

Will Trump pardon Snowden? Republicans sharply divided over whistleblower’s fate

Mr Trump has previously said he would look into a Snowden pardon, explaining at a news briefing in August that he was “very strongly” considering it and musing on the conflicting opinions about the former government employee’s crimes.

“I’m not that aware of the Snowden situation,” the president said when asked to opine on the matter. “I’m going to start looking at it. There are many many people, it seems to be a split decision.

“Many people think that he should be somehow treated differently and other people think he did very bad things. I’m going to take a look at that very strongly.”

The matter was revived when calls for Mr Snowden to be pardoned began trending on Twitter on Sunday night, with high-profile supporters such as Glenn Greenwald – Mr Snowden’s initial contact when he began leaking – joined by others across the political spectrum, including some on the far right.

Certain mainstream Republicans are appalled at the idea. Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney, daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, pulled no punches in a tweet of her own.

“Edward Snowden is a traitor. He is responsible for the largest and most damaging release of classified info in US history. He handed over US secrets to Russian and Chinese intelligence putting our troops and our nation at risk. Pardoning him would be unconscionable.”

However, others in Ms Cheney’s party take a different view.

Libertarian-leaning Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, for one, wrote that Mr Snowden “deserves a pardon” because all he did was “expose unconstitutional spying”. And right-wing hardliner Matt Gaetz, a congressman from Florida and one of Mr Trump’s hardcore Capitol Hill allies, wrote that “President Trump is listening to the many of us who are urging him to #PardonSnowden. It’s the right thing to do.”

Mr Gaetz also responded directly to Ms Cheney, pointing out that “The Cheney ideology supporting forever wars puts more troops at risk than @snowden ever did.”

That the cause of a Snowden pardon was getting support from across the spectrum was noted by Mr Greenwald, who tweeted that “Everyone from @RandPaul, @MattGaetz & @TulsiGabbard to @ACLU, @BernieSanders & @NYTimes have advocated this.”

In a long thread he tore into Ms Cheney in particular, calling her family “bloodthirsty neocon warmongers and monsters” and accusing her of owing her career to “the nepotistic accident that [she] happened to have the same last name as a war criminal and historic liar”.

“If the people most desperate for you not to be pardoned are the professional liars of CIA, the criminal domestic spies of NSA, and bloodthirsty neocon warmongers and monsters like the Cheney Family,” Mr Greenwald wrote, “that’s a pretty good sign that you’ve served justice and deserve a pardon.”

Mr Greenwald has been feuding bitterly with other journalists this year after storming out of The Intercept, which he co-founded, claiming the outlet was “censoring” him by asking him to submit a reported piece on Joe and Hunter Biden to standard editorial review.

Mr Greenwald argues that his work had always been explicitly free from such controls, and that insisting on such a review in this instance was politically motivated.

This article has been updated to include a comment from Mr Greenwald.




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