Reality Winner finds Trump’s Mar-a-Lago documents case ‘incredibly ironic’
Former intelligence contractor served four years in prison for leaking report on Russian interference in 2016 election
Reality Winner, the intelligence contractor who served more than four years in prison for leaking a report on Russian interference in the 2016 US election, has said she finds accusations that Donald Trump mishandled sensitive documents “incredibly ironic”, given her prosecution under his administration.
An FBI search of the former president’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida last month found more than 300 classified documents.
Speaking to NBC News, Winner, 30, said: “It is incredibly ironic, and I would just let the justice department sort it out.”
Winner added that it “wasn’t hard to believe” Trump held on to classified documents.
Reflecting on her own prison sentence, she said: “What I did when I broke the law was a political act at a very politically charged time.”
Winner also said she did not believe Trump should go to prison. She did not comment further on whether the former president should face charges under the Espionage Act, as she did in 2017.
“This is not a case where I expect to see any prison time,” Winner said, “and I’m just fine with that.”
Winner was released early, on good behavior, in June 2021.
While working as a national security contractor in Fort Gordon, Georgia, in 2017, Winner printed out a document that detailed how Russian military officials hacked into at least one supplier of voting software and attempted to breach at least 100 local election systems during the 2016 election.
The document was labeled “Top Secret”.
Winner took the document, which was later reported by the Intercept. An hour after the article was published, Winner was arrested at her Texas home and charged under the Espionage Act, a law created during the first world war.
Under a plea deal, Winner was sentenced to more than five years in federal prison, the longest sentence ever given for leaking government information to the media.
In an earlier interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes, Winner said that her motivation to leak came from deception around Russian interference in US elections.
“The truth wasn’t true any more,” said Winner, who served in the US air force from 2010 to 2016. “The public was being lied to.”
Winner is under probation until November 2024. She is not allowed to leave southern Texas, has a curfew and must note any interaction with the media.
She is working as a CrossFit coach, NBC reported, and advocates for alternatives to prison for those found guilty of committing a crime.
Winner’s interview with NBC came days after the 6 September death of the NSA’s most damaging leaker, Ronald Pelton, who in an unrelated case spent three decades in prison for selling government secrets to the Soviet Union during the cold war.