Snowden rules out U.S. return, Holder rules out clemency, and more from the Slatest PM.

Snowden: "No Way I Can Come Home"

Snowden: "No Way I Can Come Home"

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Jan. 23 2014 4:57 PM

Slatest PM: Snowden Says "No Way" He Can Return Home

Edward Snowden fielded questions on social media today

Photo by The Guardian via Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.

You Can't Go Home Again: ABC News: "Edward Snowden ... said today that while returning to the U.S. would be the 'best resolution' for everyone, it’s 'not possible' now because he does not believe he can get a fair trial. Charged in the U.S. with espionage-related crimes and living quietly in Russia, Snowden answered Twitter questions today in an online Q&A. When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked under what conditions Snowden would return to the U.S., the 30-year-old said the nearly 100-year-old Espionage Act, under which he is charged, 'forbids a public interest defense.' 'This is especially frustrating, because it means there’s no chance to have a fair trial, and no way I can come home and make my case to a jury,' he said. In a Wall Street Journal Op Ed Tuesday, attorney Jesselyn Radack, who has represented government whistleblowers in the past and has had contact with Snowden, argued similarly that it’s a 'fantasy' to think Snowden would be able to mount a solid defense in a fair trial due to Espionage Act-related government restrictions."


Holder Promises Conversation, Rules Out Clemency: NBC News: "Attorney General Eric Holder says the U.S. 'would engage in conversation' about a resolution with Edward Snowden if the former government contractor accepted responsibility for leaking government secrets but said granting clemency 'would be going too far.'  Holder made his comments in an interview with MSNBC's Ari Melber, scheduled to air later. The attorney general said any idea of amnesty for Snowden, 'where we say, no harm, no foul' would be going too far. Holder mirrored those comments during a public event Thursday at the University of Virginia: 'We've always indicated that the notion of clemency isn't something that we were willing to consider. Instead, were he coming back to the U.S. to enter a plea, we would engage with his lawyers.'"

More From Snowden: USA Today: "Snowden, entertaining questions in an online chat Thursday from Moscow, said he never stole colleagues' log-ins or duped them to gain access to secret files detailing mass-surveillance programs. 'I never stole any passwords, nor did I trick an army of co-workers,' he wrote during the live chat, disputing a Reuters report in November as 'simply wrong.'"

It's Thursday, January 23nd, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees, and the whole team at @Slatest.


Paul Ryan Doesn't Want to Be Speaker: Politico: "Rep. Paul Ryan said he does not want to be speaker of the House, a declaration that will have reverberations in Republican leadership circles in Washington. During a wide-ranging luncheon in a hotel ballroom here Thursday, Texas Tribune editor-in-chief Evan Smith asked: 'Does Paul Ryan want to be speaker?' 'No, he doesn’t,' Ryan replied. ... Ryan declined to say if he was interested in the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee — it’s too early to discuss, he said. But he then returned to the subject of the speakership, and described at length why he has no interest in running for the House’s top slot. The House Budget Chairman is notoriously tight-lipped about his political ambitions and his explanation represents the fullest description of how Ryan sees his future."

Not Going Away: Washington Post: "The U.S. Attorney in New Jersey has issued subpoenas to Republican Gov. Chris Christie's reelection campaign and the New Jersey Republican State Committee, the latest development in the ongoing saga surrounding a traffic scandal involving aides to the governor. An attorney for both Christie's campaign and the GOP state committee confirmed the subpoenas were issued for documents. He said both entities intend to fully cooperate with prosecutors."


More on the McDonnells: Washington Post: "Maureen McDonnell relayed to federal prosecutors last summer that she felt responsible for the relationship with a wealthy businessman that had drawn legal scrutiny to Virginia’s first family, and her attorney asked whether the case could be resolved without charges for her husband. But prosecutors showed no interest, according to people familiar with the conversation. Instead, months later, authorities proposed that then-Gov. Robert F. McDonnell plead guilty to one felony bank fraud charge that had nothing to do with corruption in office and his wife would avoid charges altogether. The governor rejected the offer, the people with knowledge of the conversations said."

Death For Dzhokar? New York Times: "In the quarter century since the federal death penalty was reinstated, in 1988, attorneys general have authorized it for about 500 defendants. This month Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is to decide if he will seek the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who awaits trial in last year’s bombings at the Boston Marathon. But even if the government pursues the death penalty, it is far from certain that it will be carried out in this case. Since its reinstatement, only three people have been executed ... Mr. Holder must decide whether the aggravating factors that might justify death, like the indiscriminate killing and maiming of innocent people, outweigh any mitigating factors, like the possibility that Mr. Tsarnaev, who was 19 at the time, was under the sway of his older brother. While Mr. Holder has said he does not personally support the death penalty, he has authorized its use several times, and many legal experts expect he will do so again in this case."

And In Ukraine: Reuters: "Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich called for an emergency session of parliament to end political crisis and violent unrest, in a sign he might be ready to soften his hardline stance and strike a compromise. Yanukovich was due to hold talks on Thursday with opposition leaders including heavyweight boxer-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko ....  The parliamentary website said the special session would be held on Tuesday. Underlining the level of mistrust between the government and opposition, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov accused protesters of trying to stage a coup d'etat, and dismissed the possibility of an early presidential election to resolve the standoff."

That's all for today. See you back here tomorrow. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.