National Security

Ukraine whistleblower's lawyer pushes back on Snowden comparison

A lawyer for the whistleblower whose complaint has spurred the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump has rejected National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden's comparison of himself to the whistleblower. 

Attorney Mark Zaid said the comparison was inaccurate because Snowden did not follow the law. 

"There is nothing similar between Ed Snowden and this whistleblower," Zaid told the Washington Examiner. "In order to be a protected whistleblower under law, you need to follow the lawful procedures. Snowden never even tried to follow the law. What he did in releasing classified information without authorization is illegal and, as a matter of law, he can never be considered a whistleblower."

"These cases could not be more different. They are night and day. This current case supports the notion that the system can work and the Snowden saga shows the negative repercussions that can come from not following the law," Zaid added. 

He told the news outlet that in the case of his client, the system worked well. 

"The whistleblower system worked very well in this case. Here you have the director of national intelligence and the Intelligence Community inspector general - both Trump appointees - on record, in writing, and under oath before Congress stating how the whistleblower followed all the rules properly, and their complaint was ultimately provided to the oversight committees and the public," Zaid said.

Snowden linked himself to the Ukraine whistleblower in a tweet late last month, writing "can you believe that the president will criticize you for exposing their wrongdoing whether or not you 'followed proper channels.' " 

"i mean gosh it's almost as if their concern was never about the law so much as suppressing credible reports of unethical activities can you imagine," he added.  

Snowden is currently promoting his book, "Permanent Record," which came out last month and for which he is being sued by the U.S. government

Zaid told the Examiner that he believes Snowden could be living in the U.S. rather than Russia, which granted him asylum in 2013, if he had gone through the proper channels. 

"If he had gone to an experienced attorney who could have guided him through the path the way this whistleblower did, the entire outcome might have ended differently, and Snowden might be living in suburban Maryland at this moment touting his book, but he chose a totally different path that was unnecessary and clearly unlawful,"  he said. 

Snowden in 2013 leaked information on the NSA's global and domestic surveillance programs.

Zaid's whistleblower detailed the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump encouraged Zelensky to look into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. 

The White House has denied the allegations in the complaint but released a rough transcript of the call in which Trump does ask Zelensky to look into Biden. 

Following the complaint, House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump over his dealings with Ukraine. 

Outbrain