It was unclear how serious Trump was, particularly given that years earlier he had denounced Snowden as a spy deserving of execution.
But Trump’s distrust of his own intelligence community has been a staple of his tenure, particularly because of its conclusion that Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential election on his behalf, and he has at times bemoaned the broad surveillance powers that the intelligence agencies have at their disposal.
Any effort to pardon Snowden would unquestionably infuriate senior intelligence officials, who say his disclosures caused extraordinary damage and will have repercussions for years to come.
In a memoir published last year, Snowden wrote that his seven years working for the NSA and CIA led him to conclude that the US intelligence community had “hacked the Constitution” and put everyone’s liberty at risk and that he had no choice but to turn to journalists to reveal it to the world.
“I realized that I was crazy to have imagined that the Supreme Court, or Congress, or President Obama, seeking to distance his administration from President George W. Bush’s, would ever hold the IC legally responsible — for anything,” he wrote, using an abbreviation for the intelligence community.
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