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Glenn Greenwald: Trump Refused to Pardon Assange, Snowden After GOP Threats to Convict Him

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald explained in a video posted to his social media this week why then-President Donald Trump elected not to pardon either NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden or WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange when he had the chance.

Greenwald’s video post comes after Trump discussed the issue with conservative host and author Candace Owens during a recent interview.

Assange was charged in 2019 with allegedly violating the Espionage Act by conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to illegally obtain and disclose classified information, according to reports.

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Snowden, who leaked top-secret documents to the media showing how the NSA was spying on Americans, was charged with a political crime — a crime against the state instead of against a person—under the Espionage Act, reported Shortform.

Owens asked Trump about pardons for Assange or Snowden, amongst a host of other questions, during a wide-ranging conversation published at The Daily Wire for its members-only section on Tuesday.

“You could have had a chance to pardon these individuals,” Owens noted. “Why decide not to in that moment?”

“You have two sides of it,” Trump said.

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“In one case, you have sort of a spy deal going on, and in another case, you have somebody that’s exposing real corruption. I feel a little bit — I won’t say which one — but I feel a little bit more strongly about one than the other,” Trump added.

“I could have done it, but — I will say, you have people on both sides of that issue — good people on both sides. And you have bad people on one side,” he continued.

“But I decided to let that one ride, let the courts work it out. And I guess the courts are actually doing that.”

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“There was some spying things, and there was some bad things released that really set us back and really hurt us with what they did,” Trump added, suggesting that he was speaking of Assange.

“But at the same time, in many cases, what they did — these were the same people that came after me so viciously and dishonestly.”’

“I could have gone — I was very close to going the other way,” Trump added.

In his video, Greenwald, a founder of the investigative site The Intercept, explained that based on his information, Trump elected not to pardon either man because he was threatened with being convicted during his second impeachment trial by Republicans.

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Greenwald explains:

But this is what was going on inside the Republican caucus in December, though they really had no leverage, which is why he was getting closer and closer to pardoning Edward Snowden. And that’s when. As you see here from U.S. News on January 12, six days after the Jan. 6th riot, “the headline on the eve of impeachment, some Republicans jumped ship as Trump sinks. Three Republicans so far have announced their support for impeaching President Donald Trump as the party considers a post-Trump era.” 

They were making very clear to him explicitly clear Republican senators like Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio and Mitch McConnell that if you do any of those things that you are considering doing, pardoning Assange and Snowden, declassifying JFK files, declassifying other secrets that should have been declassified long ago because they’re from decades-old treachery on the part of the US government, we will vote to impeach you. They had this leverage the sword of Damocles hanging over his head, and I am not saying this to justify Trump’s cowardly refusal to do what he should have done in pardoning Edward Snowden, then Julian Assange. Candace Owens was right in that video that he should have and that if she were in his position, she would have. I’m just 

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I’m explaining what I know happened, which is that all signs are pointing in the direction of him pardoning Snowden, for sure. And maybe Assange. And then suddenly this preposterous impeachment proceeding to impeach a president who was on his way out anyway, emerged precisely because it gave them the leverage to threaten Trump and say that they would convict him if he did any of those things. 

And that is why he left office without doing what you can tell from that video he knows he should have done. He’s very sheepish, very uncharacteristically timid about explaining why he didn’t. “Oh, I was just too nice. I was just too nice. I’m known for being too nice.”

That wasn’t the reason. The reason was, because he was afraid of those Republican threats to convict him. As a result, Julian Assange languishes in prison. His mental and physical health are more in danger than ever, and Edward Snowden is going to be in Russia indefinitely can’t leave the borders of that country without being immediately arrested for at least the next three years. There’s no chance Biden will pardon Edward Snowden. Maybe Donald Trump will have another chance in 2024 to do what he should have done the first time. Maybe some other president will do so. But this is the story of why the deep state yet again got its way. Even with a person in the White House who knows firsthand just how evil and destructive and toxic they are. 

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