Convicted NSA leaker Reality Winner says she'll seek a pardon from Trump

Reality Winner arrives at the federal courthouse in Augusta, where she would be sentenced to serve five years and three months behind bars for leaking a top-secret document.

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 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 on an online news outlet.

Channel 2 Action News was the first TV station to talk with Winner's parents shortly after her arrest and her guilty plea.

They told us their daughter is not a traitor.

After her sentencing last week, 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.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.