Brian Williams to Snowden: 'Did You Vote for President Obama? Did He Disappoint You?'

During his lengthy interview with NSA leaker Edward Snowden, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams found time to ask if the wanted fugitive was an Obama supporter: "Did you vote for President Obama?" After Snowden refused to answer, Williams worried: "Did he disappoint you?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Snowden replied: "...whether or not I voted for President Obama, I was inspired by him. He gave me courage, he gave me hope. I really believed that he would be a positive force for the country. And I still hope he will be." Williams added: "You, however, looked at it, you were hoping he would reverse some of the Bush policies. You were quoted as saying you were disappointed that he did not." Snowden noted: "Well, he said he would."

Williams wondered: "And in your view, it worsened?" Snowden lectured: "It's been a logical progression. He's embraced some policies and he's extended other policies. He's not Bush, he's his own president. But the consonance in the policies should be concerning for a lot of Americans because he was a candidate that promised that he would give the public back its seat at the table of government. And he still has time to do so."

Following a clip of that exchange, aired during a live NBCNews.com webcast Wednesday night, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd observed: "[Snowden] represents, interestingly enough, this demographic that we've noticed. Which is what? The eighteen to thirty-five year-olds – What is he? Thirty years old – who did think that, you know, Obama was going to be more anti-Washington, more transparent."

Earlier in the webcast, Williams suggested that the NSA should have been especially vigilant against a "perversion" of surveillance tactics in the wake of the Bush administration.


Here is a transcript of the exchange between Williams and Snowden featured in the May 28 webcast:

11:49 PM ET

(...)

WILLIAMS: I also tried to engage him in your area, Chuck, presidential politics. Let's play one last portion, his answer here.

WILLIAMS [TO SNOWDEN]: Did you vote for President Obama?

EDWARD SNOWDEN: I think – I think who people voted for is something that should be kept private. Now what-

WILLIAMS: Did he disappoint you?

SNOWDEN: What I will say on that is that whether or not I voted for President Obama, I was inspired by him. He gave me courage, he gave me hope. I really believed that he would be a positive force for the country. And I still hope he will be.

WILLIAMS: You, however, looked at it, you were hoping he would reverse some of the Bush policies. You were quoted as saying you were disappointed that he did not.

SNOWDEN: Well, he said he would.

WILLIAMS: And in your view, it worsened?

SNOWDEN: It's been a logical progression. He's embraced some policies and he's extended other policies. He's not Bush, he's his own president. But the consonance in the policies should be concerning for a lot of Americans because he was a candidate that promised that he would give the public back its seat at the table of government. And he still has time to do so.

WILLIAMS: Chuck Todd, exactly the point you touched on going into that.

TODD: I have to say, you know, it is funny, the – I thought that there was a part of what he said there – and when you look at what Obama has and hasn't done on this front, I think that he [Snowden] represents, interestingly enough, this demographic that we've noticed. Which is what? The eighteen to thirty-five year-olds – What is he? Thirty years old – who did think that, you know, Obama was going to be more anti-Washington, more transparent. And the fact is, something happens to these presidents when they get that first – you almost wonder, is it when they get that first briefing from the intelligence community? You know, Mike Leiter might know this. And I'll tell you-

ANDREA MITCHELL: It really scares the hell out them.

TODD: I mean, think about it.

WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's the Leiter's who come into the Oval Office and change these presidents...

TODD: They do.

WILLIAMS: ...in the post-9/11 era.

TODD: You can't help but wonder that. You can't help but wonder that.

(...)

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC