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Ex-NSA contractor says she’ll seek a pardon from Trump for leaking classified information

This June 2017 file photo released by the Lincoln County, Ga., Sheriff's Office, shows Reality Winner. Winner, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, was sentenced to more than five years in prison for leaking classified information.

LINCOLN COUNTY, GA. SHERIFF'S OFFICE

By JOHNNY EDWARDS | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Published: August 31, 2018

ATLANTA (Tribune News Service) — Former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday that she will seek clemency from President Donald Trump, in light of his tweet last week that her sentence of five years and three months in federal prison for leaking classified information is “so unfair.”

Winner said her legal team is working on an application strategy and plans to make the request after the midterm elections. If approved, she would avoid her record-setting sentence for leaking a top-secret document on Russian meddling to an online news outlet.

After her sentencing, Winner said she got the news by phone that the president, while hammering U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Twitter, wrote, “Gee, this is ‘small potatoes’ compared to what Hillary Clinton did! So unfair Jeff, Double Standard.”

Winner said she had been bracing for something vindictive.

“I roared like a lion,” she told the AJC, speaking by phone from the Lincoln County jail where she’s awaiting transfer into the federal prison system. “I dropped the phone and I sat on the floor and cried and said, ‘I want my family,’ over and over again.”

She described it as a transformative moment.

“When he said that, it just reminded me of everything I’ve learned, in that it doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with a person or a policy,” she said. “You can criticize and call someone whatever you want, but if you turn around and you’re not kind, and you don’t drop everything for the person next to you to help them, then your criticism means nothing.

“So for me, it’s going to be more about keeping my head down, and just being kind to people and being kind to the president. And that’s going to accomplish a lot more than any criticism.”

©2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)
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