Donald Trump compares Hillary Clinton to Reality Winner, NSA leaker sentenced to 63 months
President Trump reacted Friday morning to the sentencing of Reality Winner, a former National Security Agency contractor punished for leaking a top-secret NSA report involving Russian election interference, by publicly criticizing Attorney General Jeff Sessions for not similarly prosecuting Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
“Ex-NSA contractor to spend 63 months in jail over ‘classified’ information. Gee, this is ‘small potatoes’ compared to what Hillary Clinton did! So unfair Jeff, Double Standard,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter.
A former Air Force linguist, Winner, 26, was ordered to spend more than five years behind bars Thursday morning for leaking a top-secret intelligence report she accessed while employed by Pluribus International Corp., an analytics and engineering firm that provides services to the U.S. government, marking what prosecutors praised as the longest sentence ever received by a defendant convicted of disclosing national defense information to the media.
She is presumed to be the source of an NSA report published by The Intercept last June detailing alleged Russian state-sponsored cyber espionage operations waged against U.S. targets during the 2016 presidential race, including efforts to compromise a company that manufacturers election-related software and hardware months prior to Mr. Trump defeating Mrs. Clinton, supporting the U.S. government’s assessment that Moscow meddled in the contest.
“Even the President of the US has voiced that this sentence is unfair,” her mother, Billie J. Winner-Davis, tweeted Friday. “There are double standards in our justice system.”
“You have the power to undo this and pardon my daughter Reality Winner!!” Ms. Winner-Davis added. “Please I am asking you for justice.”
Mrs. Clinton has regularly come under fire from Mr. Trump and fellow Republicans over her handling of sensitive emails while secretary of state under the previous administration, though the FBI previously declined against bringing charges against the former presidential hopeful, deeming her conduct “extremely careless” but not criminal.
Mr. Trump has nonetheless repeatedly urged the Department of Justice to reconsider charging his former opponent, urging Mr. Sessions early Friday to “look into all of the corruption on the ‘other side’,” including supposed crimes committed by Mrs. Clinton’s non-profit organization, the Clinton Foundation.
“Come on Jeff, you can do it, the country is waiting!” Mr. Trump wrote.
Winner was arrested last June at her residence in Augusta, Georgia, two days before publication of The Intercept article based on the leaked NSA report. She pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of willful retention and transmission of national defense information a felony offense under the U.S. Espionage Act in lieu of standing trial and facing a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment if convicted.