President Donald Trump told the New York Post that he is "very strongly" looking into the idea of pardoning Edward Snowden. But before stepping into the Oval Office, the president called the famous whistleblower a "coward," "traitor," and a "disgrace."
"I'm not that aware of the Snowden situation. I'm going to start looking at it. There are many many people, it seems to be a split decision," he said. "Many people think that he should be somehow treated differently and other people think he did very bad things."
As far as the idea of pardoning Snowden, he seemed open to considering it.
"I'm going to take a look at that very strongly," he said.
"There are a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that," Trump later added.
His statement is an about-face from comments that he has made in the past.
Trump has been repeatedly critical of Snowden in recent years, with at least 45 different tweets on social media calling him some version of a traitor to the United States. Several tweets suggest that Snowden should be executed for his behavior.
"Snowden is a traitor and a disgrace. Make no mistake, he is no hero. In fact he is a coward who should come back & face justice," he tweeted on May 30, 2014.But the president seemed to change his tune while speaking with the Post during an interview at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey. He mentioned that individuals around him have appeared to be sympathetic to Snowden's plight, which has prompted him to take another look at the situation.
Snowden left the United States for Russia after leaking National Security Agency information while working as an employee for the Central Intelligence Agency.
Snowden was charged with violating the Espionage Act and with stealing government property, and his passport was revoked.
He has become one of the most famous whistleblowers in U.S. history, with some reports suggesting that he has leaked 1.5 million documents relating to the NSA and government surveillance. His actions have been championed by some and condemned by others, including Trump before he took the White House.
Most recently, Snowden wrote a book called Permanent Record and was later sued by the Justice Department, who claims that it violated the nondisclosure agreements he signed when he became an employee with the CIA and NSA, as The Inquisitr previously reported.