A Timeline of Donald Trump's Absurd Change of Heart on Edward Snowden
Trump used to call him a traitor and a spy who "should be executed," now he's considering a pardon, and Twitter can't quite take it.
If there's one thing President of These United States Donald "John Barron" Trump loves to hate, it's leakers.
Oh those leakers! Bane of his existence, committing the heinous crime of exposing his administration's crimes to the world—vile human beings.
And who is the dirtiest leaker of them all? No, it's not Lada or Irina squatting over a mattress in a Moscow hotel room, but another Russian resident entirely: Edward Snowden. The man whom, in June of 2013, Donald Trump called "a bad guy," noting in a call to Fox & Friends, "You know, there's still a thing called execution."
This was just weeks after Snowden dropped the first bombshell of NSA spying on the American public, a day after the former NSA Analyst arrived in Moscow, and months before Trump followed him there for his infamous Miss Universe Pageant trip. But during the years that followed, Snowden would remain among the future president's favorite punching bags.
In July of that year—four years before Trump welcomed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak into the Oval Office to show off some classified intelligence obtained from allies—Trump tweeted that Snowden had given "serious information to China and Russia" and called him "a traitor who fled."
In October of that year—around a year after he demanded that President Obama "opens up and gives his college records and applications, and passport application and records"—Donald Trump again stated in a tweet that Snowden "should be executed," following up by saying, "But if it and he [sic] could reveal Obama's records, I might become a major fan."
In April of 2014, Trump tweeted that Snowden was "a spy who has caused great damage to the U.S" and claimed that "in the old days" spies were executed.
Tellingly, even as a presidential candidate Donald Trump kept up this harsh stance toward Edward Snowden. In July of 2015, around a month after he glided down his golden escalator to declare Mexican immigrants "rapists"—and also to announce his presidential campaign—he was interviewed by CNN's Anderson Cooper and touted the advantages of his good relationship with Putin:
"I think I get along with him fine ... He would never keep somebody like Snowden in Russia ... And Snowden is living the life. Look if that—if I'm president, Putin says, hey, boom, you're gone. I guarantee you this."
Incidentally, in April of this year, Edward Snowden—who is still living under asylum in Moscow—filed for an additional three years of Russian residence. Maybe Trump doesn't have as much sway with Putin as he thought...
Perhaps that's why, up until now, Donald Trump-as-POTUS has not commented publicly on Edward Snowden. Despite numerous meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he has not followed through on getting his fellow world leader to turn over the "traitor." And now—not long after his administration sent Chelsea Manning back to jail for a full year for refusing to testify against Julian Assange—Donald Trump seems to have softened on the world's most famous leaker, and Twitter users can't stop digging up the receipts.
Unlike the so-called Central Park Five—whom Trump has continued to condemn, despite their exoneration—Edward Snowden apparently deserves some more consideration. In an interview with The New York Post, Donald Trump said that "there are a lot of people that think that [Snowden] is not being treated fairly."
Strange that "living the life" in Moscow is unfair treatment for "a traitor who fled." Thank goodness he wasn't executed back in 2013...
What seems to have changed Trump's mind on the issue is comparing Snowden favorably to various government figures who (according to Trump and no one credible) have illegally spied on Trump himself in the make-believe "Obamagte" conspiracy.
Including former FBI directors James Comey and Andrew McCabe—as well as former CIA director John Brennan—on his list of people who had apparently done worse than Snowden, Trump then added, "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."
While he didn't acknowledge his previous harsh stance, President Trump did say that he's "heard it both ways. From traitor to he's being, you know, persecuted." Snowden, who has also heard it both ways, seems less than convinced, noting that there were similar hints of a possible pardon during the Obama administration back in 2016.
Whatever Trump's real reason for changing his mind—maybe he wants Snowden to bring him some of that new Russian COVID vaccine—he claims to now be considering the possibility of allowing Edward Snowden to return to the US without facing prison. We'll see.