- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 9, 2015

Businessman and 2016 GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump says if he’s elected president, Russian President Vladimir Putin would turn over former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

“If I’m president, Putin says ‘hey, boom — you’re gone’ — I guarantee you that,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with CNN.

Mr. Trump called Mr. Snowden, who faces Espionage Act charges for his role in leaking information about the NSA’s phone-snooping program, a “total traitor” and said he “would deal with him harshly.”

“And if I were president, Putin would give him over. I would get along with Putin. I’ve dealt with Russia,” Mr. Trump said.

“He would never keep somebody like Snowden in Russia — he hates [President] Obama; he doesn’t respect Obama. Obama doesn’t like him either. But he has no respect for Obama, has a hatred for Obama, and Snowden is living the life,” he said.

Mr. Trump, who is at or near the top of recent polling on the 2016 GOP presidential field, also said he’s not interested in a vice presidential position if he doesn’t win the party’s nomination.

“It’s not that I wouldn’t — it’s a phenomenal position,” he said. “I think it’s a very powerful position … it’s not for me.

“I’m not doing this to be president — I’m doing this to make America great again,” he said.

He also said he’s had many people ask him if he would run as a third-party or independent candidate.

“I’d get a lot of votes,” he said. “The best way of defeating the Democrats and probably Hillary [Rodham Clinton] — I think it’s going to be Hillary — is to run as a Republican. If I do the third-party thing, it would be, I think, very bad for the Republicans. I think it would be very bad in terms of beating the Democrats, and we have to win.”

He said without independent candidate Ross Perot in the 1992 presidential race, “you would have never heard of Bill Clinton.”

“In my opinion, [former President George H.W.] Bush would have gotten almost a hundred percent of those votes,” he said. “Now, I’ve actually spoken to Bill Clinton once. He said, ‘no, no — [it] was split 50-50.’ That’s [a] smart thing for him to say. No way. Had Ross Perot not run, you would never have heard of Bill Clinton.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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