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Cheney calls pardoning Snowden 'unconscionable' after Trump says he's considering it

The Hill logo The Hill 8/17/2020 Aris Folley
Donald Trump, Liz Cheney wearing a suit and tie: Cheney calls pardoning Snowden 'unconscionable' after Trump says he's considering it © Greg Nash Cheney calls pardoning Snowden 'unconscionable' after Trump says he's considering it

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said on Sunday that pardoning former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden "would be unconscionable" after President Trump said he was considering the idea at a recent press conference.

"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," Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House, tweeted on Sunday afternoon, adding; "Pardoning him would be unconscionable."

A day before Cheney's comments, Trump said at a press conference at his golf club in New Jersey that he was looking at pardoning the former NSA contractor, who was charged with espionage in 2013 after he released classified documents related to U.S. surveillance programs.

"I'm going to look at it," Trump said at the news conference. "I'm not that aware of the Snowden situation, but I'm going to start looking at it."

"It seems to be a split decision. There are many people who think that he should be somehow treated differently and other people think he did very bad things," he continued.

Earlier this week, Trump also told the New York Post that he's been thinking of allowing Snowden, who is currently in Russia, to return to the U.S. without facing time behind bars.

"Snowden is one of the people they talk about. They talk about numerous people, but he is certainly one of the people that they do talk about," the president told the paper.

"I guess the DOJ [Department of Justice] is looking to extradite him right now? ... It's certainly something I could look at. 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," he also said.

His recent remarks come a little more than seven years after Trump said he thought Snowden was "a terrible threat" and "traitor" in an interview in 2013, while then-President Obama was in office.

"This guy is really doing damage to this country, and he's also making us look like dopes. We can't allow this guy to go out there and give out all our secrets and also embarrass us at every level. We should get him back and get him back now," he added then.

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