Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham clashed Wednesday with leaker Edward J. Snowden after the South Carolina Republican slammed recent pleas for President Trump to pardon him.
Mr. Graham had come out Tuesday against calls for Mr. Trump to pardon Mr. Snowden, a former U.S. government contractor wanted for charges related to leaking classified material to the media in 2013.
In a series of posts on Twitter, Mr. Graham called Mr. Snowden a “traitor” with “American blood on his hands,” alleging his decision to leak National Security Agency documents resulted in deaths.
Mr. Snowden fired back the following day in a Twitter post of his own denying his leaking of documents exposing the NSA’s vast surveillance operations caused American deaths as Mr. Graham alleged.
“In seven years, no one has named a single American who died as a result of revealing the unlawful program of domestic mass surveillance—because it didn’t happen. But exposing that crime did reform American laws—and strengthen our rights,” Mr. Snowden countered.
Mr. Graham had no immediate public reaction Wednesday.
The Department of Justice charged Mr. Snowden with theft and violating the U.S. Espionage Act after the leaks occurred in 2013, but he has lived in Russia ever since and avoided standing trial.
Several members of Congress have recently urged Mr. Trump to issue a pardon before his presidency is slated to end next month to Mr. Snowden, 37, that would effectively clear him of those crimes.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, said Monday that Mr. Trump would be “well-served” to pardon Mr. Snowden and argued the U.S. is better off because he disclosed classified details about the NSA.
Mr. Gaetz, a top ally of the president, acknowledged pardoning Mr. Snowden would upset members of the Republican establishment as evidenced by Mr. Graham rejecting the notion the next day, however.
Previously, House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming called Mr. Snowden a “traitor” earlier this week and argued he should not be pardoned.
Mr. Trump has also previously referred to Mr. Snowden as a “traitor” and has suggested he should be executed. More recently, he said months ago he was considering the possibility of pardoning him before leaving office.