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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Attorney General William Barr told the AP on Friday that he is "vehemently opposed" to pardoning Edward Snowden.

Why it matters: Barr's comments come just days after President Trump said he would "look at" pardoning Snowden, who was charged under the Espionage Act in 2013 for leaking highly classified information on government surveillance programs.

  • It remains unclear how serious Trump was about considering a pardon for the former NSA contractor. Ultimately, the power to issue a pardon or commutation for Snowden would lie with Trump.
  • Prior to his election, Trump called Snowden a "traitor" and a "spy who should be executed."

What he's saying: Barr called Snowden, who is living in exile in Russia, a "traitor" and said "the information he provided our adversaries greatly hurt the safety of the American people."

  • "He was peddling it around like a commercial merchant. We can’t tolerate that."

The big picture: Several top Republicans have also warned Trump against pardoning Snowden.

The other side: Snowden maintains that in working for the NSA and CIA, he concluded that the U.S. intelligence community had "hacked the Constitution."

  • He told "Axios on HBO" last year that "it was a difficult thing to come forward."
  • He added that he gave up a well-paying government job "spying on you" to never return home to see his family.

Go deeper

Ex-DHS official says Trump offered pardons to immigration officials who broke the law

Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff of the Department of Homeland Security, claimed in a political ad released Tuesday that President Trump offered to "pardon U.S. government officials for breaking the law to implement his immigration policies."

Why it matters: Taylor, who quit the Trump administration in 2019 and endorsed Joe Biden last week, is one of a number of Republicans seeking to stop the president's re-election. Trump denied that he offered pardons to immigration officials when the allegations were first reported by the Washington Post and New York Times in August 2019.

6 hours ago - World

Top general: U.S. losing time to deter China

Stanley McChrystal. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Stanley McChrystal, a top retired general and Biden adviser, tells Axios that "China's military capacity has risen much faster than people appreciate," and the U.S. is running out of time to counterbalance that in Asia and prevent a scenario such as it seizing Taiwan.

Why it matters: McChrystal, the former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, recently briefed the president-elect as part of his cabinet of diplomatic and national security advisers. President-elect Joe Biden is considering which Trump- or Obama-era approaches to keep or discard, and what new strategies to pursue.

Progressives shift focus from Biden's Cabinet to his policy agenda

Joe Biden giving remarks in Wilmington, Del., last month. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Some progressives tell Axios they believe the window for influencing President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet selections has closed, and they’re shifting focus to policy — hoping to shape Biden's agenda even before he’s sworn in.

Why it matters: The left wing of the party often draws attention for its protests, petitions and tweets, but this deliberate move reflects a determination to move beyond some fights they won't win to engage with Biden strategically, and over the long term.