Brian Williams on Snowden Interview: ‘We Were Worried About a Number of Things’

By Chris Ariens 

WilliamsSnowdenBrian Williams nearly missed his connecting flight from London to Moscow last week on his way to interview Edward Snowden. Williams’s luggage did miss the connection.

The NBC News anchor speaks with the NYTimes’ Bill Carter about his Snowden interview which will air as part of a one-hour special tonight.

“We were worried about a number of things,” Williams tells Carter. “There were competitive concerns. And we didn’t know how much the Russians knew about the reasons for our travel.”

Williams’ luggage arrived not long before Snowden came knocking on his door at the Kempinski Hotel, overlooking Red Square. “Viewers will hear me ask him about a plea bargain. He makes his case.”

“He is blindingly smart. Pay no attention to the fact that he only has a G.E.D. from high school. I joked about how, here we were, two guys with high school degrees, both dropouts from the otherwise great American community college system.”

“No money changed hands,” Williams says. “I think his total compensation was half a chicken sandwich from the room service cart.”

The “Today” show played an excerpt in which the former NSA contractor blames the State Department for stranding him in Russia. “I never intended to end up in Russia. I had a flight booked to Cuba onwards to Latin America and I was stopped because the United States government decided to revoke my passport and trap me in the Moscow Airport,” Snowden says.

Secretary of State John Kerry hit back in a live interview on “Today: “For a supposedly smart guy, that’s a pretty dumb answer.” WATCH: