Senator Chuck Schumer, a graduate of Harvard Law School who has been a US Senator since 1999, must know what he said on This Week is wrong. Schumer falsely claimed that if Edward Snowden returned to the United States to face his accusers he would have the opportunity to defend himself using the whistleblower rationale.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, clemency for Edward Snowden?
SCHUMER: No, I don’t believe so. Snowden says that he’s in the grand tradition of civil disobedience in this country. It is a grand tradition. Part of that tradition is you pay the consequences. If you break the law because your conscience says you have to, you stand trial. That’s what — or — and pay the consequences. That’s what Martin Luther King did, Mahatma Gandhi over in India. The most on-point case is Daniel Ellsberg.
So what Snowden ought to do is come back and stand trial and face the consequences. And he’ll have his ample opportunity to say why he did what he did and all of that.
Problem? That’s not true. And more to the point, Schumer must have known – as a lawyer and 15 year Senator – that it wasn’t true when he said it.
Snowden is charged under the Espionage Act which precisely denies him that opportunity. Trying to inform the public is exactly the kind of defense that is not allowed.
In reality, none of that information would be heard by a jury, if prior Espionage Act cases against leakers are any guide. Judges have ruled evidence of showing intent to inform the public, benefits of the leaks, and lack of damage to national security is inadmissible.
Fortunately for Schumer, unlike lying to Congress, lying to the media is not a crime. Though it does speak ill of Senator Schumer’s character to go on television and attempt to mislead the public on the nature of our laws and the trial Snowden would receive under them.
Furthermore, it is highly likely that Schumer premeditated his remarks on the subject making his false and misleading statements that much more of a betrayal of the public trust.