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Trump’s Latest Interview Has People Thinking That He’s Open to Pardoning Edward Snowden


When it comes to President Donald Trump and clemency, a public statement that a person was treated “unfairly” is important. Could it mean that a pardon is on the horizon for Edward Snowden?

President Trump once tweeted that Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked classified documents to expose the U.S. government’s bulk collection of citizens’ data, was a “spy” who should be “executed.” On Thursday, the president was singing a different tune, and it was music to the ears of at least one libertarian Republican lawmaker.

“There are a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that,” the president said in an interview with The New York Post. Trump discussed Snowden’s possible return to the U.S. from Russia without a threat of imprisonment.

Snowden himself noticed the Post story and stated the following on Twitter: “The last time we heard a White House considering a pardon was 2016, when the very same Attorney General who once charged me conceded that, on balance, my work in exposing the NSA’s unconstitutional system of mass surveillance had been ‘a public service.'”

President Trump has prefaced clemency in a number of cases by saying that the individual was treated unfairly, leading some to believe that he would be or should be open to pardoning Snowden.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), for one, quote-tweeted Snowden’s response and said Trump should issue a pardon.

Here are some recent examples of people who received clemency after the president said publicly that they were treated unfairly.

Roger Stone

“This is a horrible and very unfair situation,” Trump tweeted about his longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone, months before commuting Stone’s sentence. “The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!

Dinesh D’Souza

Joe Arpaio

“He’s done a great job for the people of Arizona. He’s very strong on borders, very strong on illegal immigration. He is loved in Arizona. I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly.”

Jack Johnson

“So I am taking this very righteous step, I believe, to correct a wrong that occurred in our history, and to honor a truly legendary boxing champion, legendary athlete, and a person that, when people got to know him, they really liked him and they really thought he was treated unfairly as a human being and unfairly as a champion.”

Scooter Libby

“[B]ut for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly.”

Rod Blagojevich

“I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly; he was given close to 18 years in prison. And a lot of people thought it was unfair, like a lot of other things — and it was the same gang, the Comey gang and all these sleaze bags that did it. And his name is Rod Blagojevich,” Trump said. “And I’m thinking about commuting his sentence.”

Trump commuted Blago’s sentence in Feb. 2020.

[Image via Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for WIRED25]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.