President Trump, who reportedly disclosed highly classified information to top Russian officials last week, has long used other people’s indiscretions with secrets against them. He’s demanded investigations into the “leakers” he thinks are undermining his presidency. He wielded Clinton’s private email server scandal like a sledgehammer against her during the presidential campaign, at one point insisting he would “lock her up” if elected. (He hasn’t yet.) But even amidst all that, Trump once took an even harder line on disclosing classified information to foreign adversaries.
In the summer of 2013, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked a massive trove of classified U.S. information to British and American journalists. The documents revealed secret mass-surveillance programs run by the U.S. government and allied countries, sparking widespread political debate and investigations throughout the West. Their disclosure also made Snowden a fugitive from a wrathful U.S. government. Shortly after leaking the information, Snowden fled first to Hong Kong and then to Moscow, when he resides to this day under temporary asylum protections.
Trump, a private citizen at the time, frequently commented on the news of the day on Twitter. The NSA disclosures were no exception. At first, Trump used the episode to express his ire towards the Obama administration embarrassing the U.S. on the world stage. But after Snowden’s flight to Russia, his anger on Twitter turned towards the former NSA contractor he described as a “traitor.”
Call it any way you like, but Snowden is a traitor. When our country was great do you know what we did to traitors?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2013
How did Snowden, with not even a high school education, get access to top secret U.S. records. He then gave, or sold, those records-traitor!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2013
Snowden, if you’re such a hero then come back home and face justice. In reality, you are just another wiseguy traitor.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2013
Lying traitor Snowden now claims that he did not give any information to the Russians or Chinese. Why doesn’t he come home then?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2013
Snowden has given serious information to China and Russia-anyone who thinks otherwise is a dope! He is a traitor who fled-he knew the crime!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 11, 2013