Reality Winner, the first person to be prosecuted in violation of the Espionage Act under the Trump administration, said she was “blown away” by the voluminous detail found in the 49-page indictment against the former president in the sprawling Mar-a-Lago documents scandal. The former intelligence contractor and Air Force linguist made the comments in a new interview with NBC broadcast Friday.
In 2018, under the Trump administration, Winner pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years and three months in prison after leaking a top-secret report on Russian hacking to the media—the longest sentence imposed for this crime at the time, according to prosecutors. Now, five years later, Trump himself has been accused of retaining and withholding national security information in violation of the Espionage Act, as well as conspiring to obstruct justice, and lying to the FBI. Winner has previously described the case against Trump “incredibly ironic.”
“It wasn’t hard to believe,” Winner told NBC on Friday. “This is a man that really likes trophies.”
In August 2022, the FBI seized top secret and classified documents from the former president’s Florida estate. On Thursday, Trump was indicted on 37 charges, including conspiracy to obstruct justice and including willfully retaining national defense secrets. Since the indictment’s announcement, Trump has vehemently denied any wrongdoing. His personal valet, Walt Nauta, was also listed in the suite of charges.
Winner went on: “This is probably one of the most transparent and straightforward indictments that defines national defense information and gives the public a sense of the itemized description of every document, which is not how this particular law has been used against ordinary citizens.”
While Winner has been a vocal critic of the Espionage Act, she does admit the case against Trump looks strong, calling it one of the “most egregious and cut-and-dry cases” she’s ever seen. NBC reports:
Winner has said that she considers the application of the Espionage Act inconsistent and vague. Civil liberties groups have similarly argued that the law needs to be updated and should be clearer about what is considered prohibited conduct while also maintaining free speech safeguards for whistleblowing activities.
But Winner said the indictment against Trump is remarkable for its specificity on what he allegedly took and that there was no indication he was acting for the greater good of the public.
After serving more than four years, Winner was released from prison on good behavior in 2021. Her story was recently turned into a film entitled “Reality“—an adaptation of the FBI transcripts of her interrogation. The HBO film is currently streaming on Max.