Hong Kong authorities declined to act on an extradition request, saying it failed to meet their legal standards. Snowden, who is facing federal charges of espionage and theft of government property, boarded a flight to Moscow on Sunday. 

He is believed to be seeking asylum in Ecuador, with reports suggesting he will attempt to travel there.

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Monday that the United States was “disappointed” in Hong Kong’s decision.

"We have registered our strong objections to the authorities in Hong Kong as well as to the Chinese government through diplomatic channels and noted that such behavior is detrimental to U.S.-Hong Kong and U.S.-China bilateral relations," she said in a statement.

King said he believed that mainland Chinese authorities were behind the decision to allow Snowden to flee.

“I can’t believe Hong Kong would have made it without China encouraging it or certainly acquiescing in it” he said.

“We have to take a much tougher attitude with China,” King warned. “We have to step back and say that business cannot go on as usual.”

“This is really up to the president to be more aggressive and know how to play his cards better than he has up until now,” King continued.

King said Obama should have done a better job defending the NSA surveillance programs and explaining why they were critical to national security.

“I think from the start of the whole NSA matter, the president should have been out front,” said King.

“The president has to explain to the American people why, if he believes we are back in pre-9/11, we are using such post-9/11 techniques and methods,” King added, explaining that he supported the NSA programs.

“He’s been silent. He should be the leader; he should be out, not talking about it in Berlin, but talking to the American people.”

King also criticized Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate passes 6B defense bill This week: House GOP caught in immigration limbo Amendments fuel resentments within Senate GOP MORE (R-Ky.) for defending Snowden in an interview.

“Snowden’s a traitor, and anyone who calls him a hero is terribly misguided,” said King.