Republican lawmakers push Trump to pardon Edward Snowden

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WASHINGTON — Republicans in Congress are pushing President Trump to grant clemency to whistleblower Edward Snowden amid a blitz of pardons during his final weeks in the White House, according to a new report.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), as well as recently pardoned Trump associate Roger Stone, have all asked the president in recent days to drop the criminal charges against the former National Security Agency contractor, Politico reported Thursday.

The president’s allies reportedly see Trump as increasingly amenable to the controversial idea and have pitched Snowden as someone who was unfairly persecuted after exposing the NSA’s massive domestic surveillance program.

Paul told the publication that Snowden, who has been living in exile in Russia, also exposed James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, for lying to Congress about warrantless spying on US citizens.

“He revealed that James Clapper, the highest-ranking, most powerful spy in the world, was spying on Americans and lied to us about it,” Paul said in an interview.

“So I think what Snowden did was a service to the American people and he ought to be pardoned,” he added.

In an Oval Office interview with The Post in August, the commander in chief said he was open to allowing the leaker to return from Russia without going to prison.

“There are a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that,” Trump said.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has also publicly called on Trump to pardon Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, saying they should be rewarded for exposing “the deception and criminality of those in the deep state.”

But many Republicans view Snowden as a traitor who broke the law and did untold damage to the nation’s spying abilities.

Attorney General William Barr in August told the Associated Press he was “vehemently opposed” to pardoning the NSA leaker but Barr stepped down from his role as the chief of the justice department last week.

Trump went on a pre-Christmas forgiveness blitz this week, pardoning his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his longtime associate Roger Stone, and Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law Jared Kushner, among others.

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