Although President Donald Trump has recently signaled that he would consider granting a pardon to former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, some within his administration are strongly urging against it.
As reported by the Associated Press, U.S. Attorney General William Barr would be “vehemently opposed” to a pardon for Snowden, who leaked confidential information about NSA surveillance programs in 2013.
“Hurt the safety of the American people”
Currently exiled in Russia, he faces charges of violating the Espionage Act and has stated that he would like to return to America — but only if he can be guaranteed a fair trial.
Snowden’s case elicits wildly varying opinions across the political spectrum with some seeing him as a hero for exposing overreaches within the federal government and others who deem him a traitor for releasing sensitive information and potentially putting Americans at risk.
As for Barr, he left no doubt regarding his stance.
“He was a traitor and the information he provided our adversaries greatly hurt the safety of the American people,” the attorney general said. “He was peddling it around like a commercial merchant. We can’t tolerate that.”
Barr’s remarks were in response to a recent statement Trump made regarding the possibility of granting Snowden some form of executive clemency.
“Going to take a look at that very strongly”
“I’m not aware of the Snowden situation,” the president told reporters on Sunday. “Many people think he should be somehow treated differently and other people think he did very bad things.”
As for any potential action on his part in the case, Trump said he is “going to take a look at that very strongly.”
U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) similarly described Snowden as “a traitor,” asserting that he is “responsible for the largest and most damaging release of classified info” in the nation’s history and does not deserve clemency of any kind.
Trump’s current position is a marked evolution from his public statements in the aftermath of the scandal in 2013, at which time he called Snowden a “spy who should be executed.”
Of course, even in his most recent comments, the president offered no indication that he is leaning toward announcing a pardon. Barr’s full-throated denunciation further indicates that the president is hearing from advisers who believe Snowden deserves to face serious consequences for his traitorous actions.