President Trump said he will “look at” the case of Edward Snowden for a potential pardon.
“I’m not that aware of the Snowden situation,” Trump told reporters in a briefing Saturday. “Many people think 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,” he added.
Trump polled his aides Thursday to see whether he should free the anti-surveillance whistleblower and allow him to return to the U.S. from Russia without fear of arrest.
“There are a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that,” Trump told the New York Post in an interview.
“When you look at [former FBI Director James] Comey and [former FBI Deputy Director Andrew] McCabe, and [former CIA Director John] Brennan — and, excuse me, the man that sat at this desk, President Obama, got caught spying on my campaign with Biden. Biden and Obama, and they got caught spying on the campaign,” Trump said.
His comments Saturday reveal remarkable reversal of course about the man he once deemed a “traitor." “Snowden is a spy who should be executed – but if it and he could reveal Obama’s records, I might become a major fan,” Trump wrote on Twitter in 2013.
A number of Republicans have voiced a renewed call for the president to free Snowden. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he was one of those Trump referred to as believing Snowden was treated unfairly.
“I’m one of them. @Snowden revealed that Trump-haters Clapper and Comey among others were illegally spying on Americans,” Paul wrote on Twitter. “Clapper lied to Congress about it. @realDonaldTrump should pardon Snowden!”
Another Kentucky Republican, Rep. Thomas Massie, voiced similar concerns. “Employees of the US government violated the Constitution and lied to Congress and the American people about it. @Snowden exposed them. This is bigger than him. If he’s punished for his service to the Constitution, there will be more violations of the Constitution, and more lies,” Massie wrote on Twitter.
Snowden, hiding in Russia, said last year he would return to the U.S. if he would be guaranteed a fair jury trial.
“That is the ultimate goal, but if I’m going to spend the rest of my life in prison then my one, bottom-line demand that we all have to agree to is that at least I get a fair trial,” Snowden said on “CBS This Morning." He said that the U.S. government has “refused” to guarantee one.
“They won’t provide access to what’s called a public interest defense,” Snowden said.
The ex-National Security Agency (NSA) contractor blew the lid off U.S. government surveillance methods in 2013. Moscow has resisted U.S. pressure to extradite Snowden, who faces charges that could land him in prison for up to 30 years.
The Guardian in Britain published the first story based on Snowden's disclosures. It revealed that a secret court order was allowing the U.S. government to Verizon phone records for millions of Americans. Later stories, including those in The Washington Post, disclosed other snooping, and how U.S. and British spy agencies had tapped into information from cables carrying the world's phone and Internet traffic.
Fox News' Brian Flood contributed to this report.