There was much speculation toward the end of Donald Trump’s term as president of the United States that Trump would pardon Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, or both of these men who were responsible for exposing vast amounts of wrongdoing by the US government. But, it did not come to pass. Why? Glenn Greenwald, who played a key role in helping Snowden expose information about the US government’s mass surveillance programs and who advocated in public and behind the scenes that Trump pardon both men, has some interesting thoughts about that.
The reason Trump failed to issue a pardon for either Snowden or Assange centers on the deep state trying to protect itself by placing Trump in jeopardy, suggested Greenwald last week in an episode of his System Update show.
In a written introduction for the episode, Greenwald notes that Trump, while president, had both “raised the possibility that he might pardon Snowden” and was “actively considering a pardon for Assange.”
Greenwald, in the introduction, zeros in on a recent interview of Trump by Candace Owens. In the interview, Trump stated he came “very close” to pardoning one of them but did not ultimately do so. Why? Trump said the reason was because Trump “was too nice” to issue the pardon.
Greenwald isn’t buying that explanation. He writes:
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.
In the System Update episode, Greenwald further explains that Trump’s enmity toward these deep state forces that helped lead Greenwald and many other individuals to think that Trump may issue the pardons:
Now the argument for why President Trump not only should have pardoned Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, but why some of us believed there was a chance that he could didn't rely on the benevolence of President Trump. It relied on the fact that he knew better than anybody how deceitful and abusive and dangerous these agencies are. The agencies that were exposed by Snowden and Assange and the ones that were demanding that they be imprisoned forever. He knew, as well as anybody, the treachery and the illegal interference in our domestic politics because he was one of their targets.
Yet, the pardons did not materialize. Why? Greenwald states that Greenwald “knew that Trump wanted to pardon Edward Snowden and had strongly considered pardoning Julian Assange.” But, continues Greenwald, Trump “got scared into pardoning neither of them for reasons I'm about to explain to you.” Greenwald then argues that ultimately Trump gave in to deep state pressure applied through Republican Senators’ threat to convict Trump on the impeachment brought against him in his final weeks in office. Says Greenwald:
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….
“This is the story of why the deep state yet again got its way,” concludes Greenwald in his System Update episode, “even with a person in the White House who knows firsthand just how evil and destructive and toxic they are.”
Watch the System Update episode, and read the introduction and transcript, here.