Convicted leaker Reality Winner: I can’t thank Trump enough for tweet

Reality Winner, a former government contractor who pleaded guilty to leaking classified documents to a media outlet, thanked President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration MORE on Thursday for calling her five-year prison sentence “unfair.” 

“For that, I can’t thank him enough,” Winner said on “CBS This Morning.”


Winner, who was the first person convicted under the Espionage Act since Trump took office, was sentenced to more than five years in prison for leaking classified National Security Agency documents, the longest sentence ever given for such a violation. 

Trump took exception to the sentence, comparing it to crimes he alleges Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFBI’s top lawyer believed Hillary Clinton should face charges, but was talked out of it Harris adds key Clinton aide, women of color to 2020 campaign: report Democrats more likely Trump's foil, than to foil Trump MORE committed in the 2016 presidential campaign.

On Friday he tweeted, “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,” referring to Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDems seize on Times bombshell to push allegations of Trump obstruction Mueller report may be 'anti-climactic,' says ex-intelligence director CNN ripped for hiring former Republican operative as political editor: 'WTF?!?!' MORE.

“I can't thank him 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, so I just can't thank him enough for finally saying what everybody has been thinking for 16 months," Winner responded. 

While she was grateful for Trump’s comments, Winner was hesitant to venture whether she had the president’s support.

"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,” she said.

The report Winner leaked to The Intercept detailed Russian attempts to infiltrate state election systems as part of its efforts to meddle in the presidential election. She said she feels vindicated after reports detailing further interference have surfaced.

Trump hasn’t always had a lenient view on those suspected of leaking classified information, suggesting in 2014 that leaker Edward Snowden should have been executed.

“Snowden is a spy who has caused great damage to the U.S. A spy in the old days, when our country was respected and strong, would be executed,” he tweeted at the time.