Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) on Sunday blasted President Donald Trump’s suggestion he might pardon fugitive National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden as “unconscionable.”
A day after Trump said he’s “going to look at” the possibility of pardoning Snowden, Cheney ― the third-ranking House Republican ― lashed back on Twitter. She called Snowden “a traitor” and added: “Pardoning him would be unconscionable.”
Snowden, a former NSA contractor, fled the U.S. in 2013 after leaking troves of secret documents revealing the agency has been spying on the communications of ordinary Americans and foreign leaders. He was granted asylum in Russia and has said he won’t return to the U.S. as long as he’s facing an espionage charge.
“There are a lot of people that think that [Edward Snowden] is not being treated fairly,” the president said.
On Saturday, a reporter asked Trump whether he would consider pardoning Snowden.
“I’m going to look at it,” Trump said. “I’m not that aware of the Snowden situation, but 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 somehow be treated differently and other people think he did very bad things, and I’m going to take a very good look at it.”
Cheney on Sunday made clear that her view is closer to that of the 2013 Trump:
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.
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) August 16, 2020
Q: "Do you want to give Edward Snowden a pardon and bring him back?"President Trump: "I'm going to look at it." pic.twitter.com/Lb75QVaGVb
— The Hill (@thehill) August 15, 2020
Cheney has been increasingly at odds with Trump during the COVID-19 pandemic, criticizing his readiness to ignore medical experts in favor of reopening the economy. She has also disagreed with Trump’s order removing troops from Afghanistan.
“Liz Cheney is only upset because I have been actively getting our great and beautiful Country out of the ridiculous and costly Endless Wars,” Trump tweeted in July.
Snowden didn’t appear to react to the comments of either Trump or Cheney.
He did, however, retweet a Twitter post by British journalist Medhi Hasan, which commented that “everyone from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty to The New York Times and Guardian editorial boards have called for some form of clemency or pardon for Snowden.”
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