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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.

Mike Allen, author of AM
4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."