Holder: U.S. Would ‘Engage’ Snowden’s Lawyers But Clemency Goes ‘Too Far’

Attorney General Eric Holder told MSNBC Thursday that the U.S. would “engage in conversation” with former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s lawyers if he accepted responsibility for leaking top-secret documents.

But the idea of granting Snowden clemency “where we say no harm, no foul,” the attorney general said, goes “too far.”

Asked whether he considers Snowden a whistleblower, Holder said “I prefer the term defendant. That’s the most apt title.”

He made the comments in an interview with MSNBC’s Ari Melber scheduled to air Thursday afternoon.

A spokesman for Holder clarified Wednesday afternoon that Snowden accepting responsibility would entail pleading guilty.

This post has been updated.


Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.