- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 17, 2019

A lawyer for the whistleblower that sparked the impeachment inquiry into President Trump rejected comparisons between his client and Edward Snowden.

Mark S. Zaid, an attorney representing the intelligence community whistleblower, said in an interview published Thursday there is “nothing similar” between his client and Mr. Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who leaked classified information to the media in 2013 about the U.S. government’s surveillance activities.

“These cases could not be more different,” Mr. Zaid said, The Washington Examiner reported. “They are night and day. This current case supports the notion that the system can work and the Snowden saga shows the negative repercussions that can come from not following the law.

“In order to be a protected whistleblower under law, you need to follow the lawful procedures,” added Mr. Zaid, a lawyer specializing in whistleblower protection. “Snowden never even tried to follow the law. What he did in releasing classified information without authorization is illegal and, as a matter of law, he can never be considered a whistleblower.”

Mr. Snowden, 36, leaked classified documents that detailed the activities and abilities of the U.S. government’s surveillance apparatus both domestically and abroad. He was subsequently charged by the Justice Department with related felonies and has been considered at large for the past six years while living in Russia.

More recently, the unknown member of the U.S. intelligence community filed a whistleblower complaint after learning about efforts by Mr. Trump to have his Ukrainian counterpart investigate Joseph R. Biden, former U.S. vice president and current Democratic presidential candidate. House Democrats subsequently initiated impeachment proceedings last month after the White House tried to block Congress from viewing the complaint.

“The whistleblower system worked very well in this case,” Mr. Zaid said about his client, the Examiner reported. “Here you have the director of national intelligence and the Intelligence Community inspector general — both Trump appointees — on record, in writing, and under oath before Congress stating how the whistleblower followed all the rules properly, and their complaint was ultimately provided to the oversight committees and the public.”

Mr. Snowden has said that he repeatedly voiced concerns within the NSA about its practices before eventually leaking evidence of the agency’s activities to the media.

Congress has since passed legislation, the USA Freedom Act, that reined in one of the NSA’s more controversial operations exposed by Mr. Snowden: the blanket and warrantless collection of U.S. telephone records.

Mr. Snowden did not immediately return a message requesting comment.

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