- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, advocated Monday for President Trump to pardon wanted leaker Edward J. Snowden while pushing for what he predicted would upset the GOP establishment and others.

Mr. Gaetz, a close ally of the president, called for him to pardon Mr. Snowden after the congressman recently clashed publicly with the chair of the House Republican Conference over the idea.

“I think we are a better country because we know what Edward Snowden exposed to us,” he said on the latest episode of his podcast, “Hot Takes with Matt Gaetz.”

Mr. Gaetz discussed having argued on Twitter with House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who recently called Mr. Snowden a traitor unworthy of receiving a presidential pardon.

“Liz Cheney, in her opposition to a Snowden pardon, is standing up for the national security apparatus that failed in Iraq, that failed in Afghanistan, that wants to keep us in war in Yemen and in Somalia and really every place on the planet earth where they think they can make a buck off of U.S. military engagement,” argued Mr. Gaetz.



“So I believe the president would be well-served to pardon Edward Snowden,” Mr. Gaetz added.

Mr. Snowden, a former contractor for the U.S. National Security Agency, or NSA, admittedly leaked a trove of classified material to the media in 2013 exposing the agency’s operations and abilities.

Although the then-future president called him a traitor at the time, Mr. Trump has said that he was considering the possibility of pardoning Mr. Snowden before his time in the White House ends soon.

Among the revelations made possible by the Snowden leaks were details about the NSA’s bulk, warrantless collection of phone records concerning calls made and received by millions of Americans daily.

Mr. Gaetz argued those most against pardoning Mr. Snowden include Ms. Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in Congress, making it “an easy decision for the president” to do the exact opposite.

Speaking more broadly about pardons last month, Mr. Gaetz said he believed the president should exercise his power to issue them “effectively and robustly” before his administration ends next month.

Mr. Snowden, 37, has been charged with theft and violating the U.S. Espionage Act. He has lived in Russia since shortly after revealing himself as the source of the NSA leaks seven years ago.

Mr. Gaetz has previously recommended Mr. Trump pardon Mr. Snowden, and he is currently one of three congressman to co-sponsor a resolution calling on the U.S. to drop its case against him.

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