Russia probe

Reality Winner, ex-NSA contractor guilty of leaking classified info, gives profuse ‘thank you’ to Trump after one of his tweets

Reality Winner exits the Augusta Courthouse June 8, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Former NSA contractor Reality Winner issued a thank you to President Donald Trump after he criticized her 5-year sentence as “so unfair” in a tweet lashing out at Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, and his 2016 presidential race opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Winner pleaded guilty to leaking classified information about Russian government efforts to hack a supplier of voting software and the accounts of election officials ahead of the 2016 election. Last week, Winner was sentenced to more than five years in federal prison. “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,” wrote Trump on Friday.

In a phone interview with CBS This Morning from Lincoln County Jail in Georgia, Winner said that she couldn’t “thank him [Trump] enough because for 16 months those words ‘so unfair’ were actually not allowed by myself or my team or my family to say out in the public.”

“I don’t like to assume anything as to what’s going on in his head, but the ‘small potatoes’ was a breath of fresh air. It really made me laugh. It reminded me of me and my own family. We try to make a joke out of everything. We laugh every single day no matter how bad things get, and he really gave a whole sense of humor to the thing ’cause it is quite bizarre,” said Winner.

Asked whether she felt relieved that her controversial decision to leak information had successfully helped raise awareness about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, Winner said that watching Mueller’s ongoing Russia investigation had been “vindicating but also frustrating” because being in prison severely limited her ability to actively work to combat Russia’s undermining tactics.

“I know that had I been out and allowed some kind of opinion about it, I would be doing my due diligence as a citizen, contacting my senators, but as it is I’ve just been behind bars kind of a spectator, kind of a sounding box,” she explained.

Watch Winner’s full interview with CBS This Morning below.

Read the full story at CBS News.

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