Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Video Transcript: The Semi-Inside Story of Why Trump Refused to Pardon Snowden and Assange

Posted by M. C. on January 9, 2022

For months, Trump indicated that he was strongly considering pardoning NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, and considering a pardon for Assange as well. Yet he never did. Why?

Glenn Greenwald

When Donald Trump vacated the White House on January 20, 2021, it became clear that he had refused to issue two pardons which many of his most ardent supporters were advocating and even expecting: one for the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who has spent eight years in exile in Russia for revealing to American citizens that the Obama-era NSA was secretly and unconstitutionally spying en masse on their communications and other online activities, and Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder whose reporting in 2010 on grave crimes by the U.S. and its allies and in 2016 on the Clinton campaign were among the most consequential journalism stories of the last two decades.

Trump’s failure to pardon either of them fostered disappointment and anger in many circles — “Trump left the White House about as weak, cucked, and submissive as it’s possible for a grown adult to scamper away,” I tweeted on that day, with an obviously considerable mix of each sentiment. That reaction was due to the fact that Trump himself had raised the possibility that he might pardon Snowden — infuriating everyone from Susan Rice to Liz Cheney — and was also actively considering a pardon for Assange. Given that it is virtually impossible to imagine any other U.S. president even remotely considering such a move, Trump seemed to be not just the best but the last chance for either of these two courageous dissidents to finally earn their freedom and be able to go home. That many of Trump’s most trusted Congressional allies [such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL)] were strongly advocating for a pardon of one or both, and because Trump himself harbored so many valid personal reasons for wanting to confront these security state agencies — he had, as much as anyone, seen first-hand how pernicious and sinister these agencies can be, and what grave menaces they pose for American democracy — it was difficult for many people to understand why he did not pardon one or both of them.

This question was raised again last week when Candace Owens interviewed Trump at Mar-a-Lago and pressed him quite persistently on his rationale for failing to issue these pardons. It was the first time Trump had been publicly confronted about his decision not to do so, and Owens adeptly challenged him with all of the reasons she and many others believed he should have. Everyone can judge for themselves, but Trump appeared clearly chastened and uncharacteristically timid in explaining himself, insisting he was “very close” to pardoning one of them (Snowden) but ultimately suggesting that he “was too nice” to do it.

The question that obviously emerges from that answer: too nice to whom? To the U.S. security services — the CIA, NSA and FBI — which had spent four years doing everything possible to sabotage and undermine Trump and his presidency with their concoction of Russiagate and other leaks of false accusations to their corporate media allies? Too nice to the war-mongering servants of the military-industrial complex in the establishment wings of both parties who were the allies of those security services in attempting to derail Trump’s America First foreign policy agenda? Too nice to John Brennan, James Clapper and Susan Rice, the Obama-era security officials most eager to see both Assange and Snowden rot in prison for life because they exposed Obama’s spying crimes and the Democrats’ corruption in 2016? Trump’s “I’m too nice” explanation is, shall we say, less than persuasive.

As most readers know, I very vocally advocated for a pardon of each throughout 2020 — in this space, on Fox News, on social media, on countless other shows, in every platform I could find. I did so in part out of journalistic duty (I believe it is my ethical obligation to do everything possible to secure protection of my source, Edward Snowden); friendship (I count each of them as friends); but most of all out of political conviction (I believe it would have been one of the greatest and most beneficial blows, if not the greatest, to the impunity and omnipotence which the Deep State has enjoyed in Washington for decades if their demands were brushed aside and the two people who did as much as anyone to reveal their crimes were protected and heralded rather than imprisoned and destroyed).

But beyond my public advocacy, I also engaged in extensive efforts privately to do everything possible to secure a pardon for each of them. I did not hide that I was doing this: I was candid at the time that I was trying. But because those efforts involved private conversations with people close to or inside of the Trump circle, I did not talk about them because doing so would have undermined those efforts, and I did not want to do anything that might have jeopardized the campaign to secure their freedom. Now that Trump is publicly speaking about his decision, I decided it was time to share what I know about Trump’s decision-making process as a result of my involvement in that private campaign. On Tuesday, we published a 30-minute video report on Rumble to examine the answers. I do know some of the story, but not all of it, so the video report we produced bears the humble and cautious title: “The Semi-Inside Story of Why Trump Refused to Pardon Snowden and Assange.” I tried hard to avoid speculation and instead confine myself to what I actually know. You can watch that video on Rumble or on the video player below; as always, for those who prefer to read it rather than watch, we have also produced a full transcript of the program that appears below.

On a separate note: I wanted to remind readers that all episodes for the weekly podcast I host on the great new app Callin are available online and can be heard here. The last episode on Wednesday night explored Australia’s refusal to allow the unvaccinated tennis star Novak Djokovic to enter their country to play in the Australian Open and what this shows about the utter irrationality of current COVID policy; I also devoted some of that show to anticipating and analyzing the one-year anniversary of 1/6. The separate weekly podcast show I co-host with the Canadian leftist journalist Andray Domise can also be heard online; our last episode was taped before days before New Year’s and is a year-end review focused on the sustained and growing civil liberties assaults from COVID, along with everything relating to the Biden presidency. Although, currently, the app itself is needed to participate in the live shows and ask questions and that app is still available only to iPhone users, it will also be available to Android users very, very shortly — within a few weeks or so is the estimate. For now, all episodes are posted to the web immediately after they are taped so that they can be heard by everyone.

The following is a full transcript of Glenn Greenwald’s Rumble video report: The Semi-Inside Story of Why Trump Refused to Pardon Snowden and Assange,” published on Jan, 4 2021. Click the link here to watch the full program on Rumble, or watch the video on the player below (we post the YouTube version here on Substack only because we are forced to by virtue of the fact that Substack has not yet enabled embedding of Rumble videos).

See the rest here

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