As a candidate, Trump “guarantee[d]” he would bring home the infamous National Security Agency whistleblower. As president, however, he has shown no desire to confront Putin about Snowden.
Why not? Experts and former U.S. officials say that passions have cooled over the fugitive who rocked the intelligence community five years ago last month. More recent hacking scandals have overshadowed his actions. And Trump himself has become a harsh critic of U.S. surveillance programs, which he claims without evidence the Obama administration wrongly used against him.
Even so, some experts think handing over Snowden would be an easy way for Putin to do Trump a favor — giving the president a victory that would especially please intelligence and national security officials angry he hasn’t done more to counter Russian election meddling. Before Trump was sworn in in January 2017, former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell wrote that handing over Snowden would be “the perfect inauguration gift” from Putin to Trump.