John Boehner's Edward Snowden characterization as a "traitor" is likely one of the few positions the Republican Speaker of the House shares with President Barack Obama and other leading Democrats.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Boehner said, "Edward Snowden is a traitor to our country.
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"He has damaged our ability to keep Americans safe here and abroad. And there’s no other word that should describe him other than a traitor," Boehner added.
The Speaker's remarks were made in reference to a question by a reporter as to whether the former NSA contractor-turned-leaker would ever be granted clemency if he were to return to the U.S.
Last week, NBC News' Brian Williams sat down with Snowden in Moscow
for his first interview with a U.S. television network. The interview aired Wednesday.
When asked by Williams if he wanted to return home, the North Carolina native said, "I don’t think there’s ever been any question that I’d like to go home.
"I mean I, from day one, said that I’m doing this to serve my country," Snowden continued. "Whether amnesty or clemency ever becomes a possibility is not for me to say. That’s a debate for the public and the government to decide, but if I could go anywhere in the world, that place would be home."
Snowden downloaded 1.7 million intelligence files, the largest theft of secrets in U.S. history, which according to lawmakers has the potential to put military personnel in harm's way. He is currently in Russia on temporary asylum.
"I personally am surprised that I ended up here," Snowden told Williams. "The reality is, I never intended to end up in Russia."
Boehner wasn't the only lawmaker to comment on Snowden following the NBC News interview, with Secretary of State John Kerry telling the network
, "If Mr. Snowden wants to come back to the United States, we’ll have him on a flight today," adding, "A patriot would not run away."
"This is a man who has betrayed his country. He should man up and come back to the U.S.," Kerry added in a separate interview with CBS News
As The Washington Times noted
, even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi weighed in during her weekly news conference Thursday, telling reporters, "I don’t really think that we should set a precedent that says, if you reveal millions of pages — millions of documents — that that’s a patriotic thing and you’re off free and clear."
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