NSA whistleblower petitions Trump for clemency
Reality Winner, the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower jailed for leaking classified information on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, petitioned President Trump for clemency Monday.
Winner’s attorney Alison Grinter said in a press conference in Dallas that she will submit the petition to the federal office of the pardon attorney, who advises the president on pardons.
She also plans to send 4,500 letters of support, including ones from privacy and free press advocates, according to The Intercept.
Winner was sentenced to five years and three months starting in August 2018 after admitting to giving classified information about Russia’s attempts to hack local elections before the 2016 election to an investigative news website, The Guardian reported.
“Our national healing process cannot begin until we forgive our truth-tellers and begin the job of rebuilding what was taken from us: election security, accountability for those who endeavor to undermine our democracy; and safeguarding the American right to government by and for the people,” Grinter said at the conference. “None of this can begin in earnest while we are still punishing those who tell us the truth.”
The petition alleges that Winner’s imprisonment is “costly, unnecessary to protect the public, burdensome to her health and wellbeing, and not commensurate with the severity of her offense.”
The president previously commented on Winner’s sentencing in an August 2018 tweet, in which he specifically criticized then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and called Winner’s crimes “‘small potatoes’ compared to what Hillary Clinton did,” in an apparent reference to the private email server Clinton kept as secretary of State.
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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 24, 2018
Winner has said in a 2018 interview with CBS News that she “can’t thank him enough” for the tweet.
“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,” she said.
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