President Trump Weighs in on Reality Winner Sentencing, Calls Her Leak 'Small Potatoes'

Unindicted co-conspirator Donald Trump in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on August 23, 2018
Unindicted co-conspirator Donald Trump in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on August 23, 2018
Photo: Getty

President Trump is awake, angry, and tweeting this morning, which wouldn’t normally be newsworthy. But Trump just weighed in on a case that strikes close to his legitimacy as president: The Reality Winner leak. And he seems to think that it wasn’t a big deal.


“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,” Trump tweeted at 7:10am Eastern time.

It’s not immediately clear why President Trump put the word “classified” in quotes. His odd use of capitalization, creative spelling, and strange punctuation can make his tweets difficult to parse sometimes. But the overall message is clear. He believes that Reality Winner’s case proves that Hillary Clinton should face jail time, something that no reasonable person could conclude. But, of course, we’re not talking about a reasonable person anymore when we’re discussing the president of the United States.

Winner was sentenced to 63 months behind bars and three years of supervised release, the longest sentence for such a leak of classified information. In June of 2017, Winner sent The Intercept classified information about ways that the Russian government had sought to influence the 2016 presidential election to favor Donald Trump. Winner worked for a contractor of the National Security Administration (NSA) and believed that the information should be made public. When asked about who he wanted to win, Russian President Vladimir Putin even admitted that he preferred Trump, but seemed to deny that his government had anything to do with it.

“Winner performed a public service by alerting the public and state officials to dangerous vulnerabilities in election infrastructure, and it’s shameful the Justice Department would seek any prison time for her doing so—let alone the longest sentence for such an act in history,” Press Foundation Executive Director Trevor Timm said in a statement.

President Trump continues to be in hot water as his closest associates, including his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, have been found guilty of numerous crimes in recent weeks. Trump, the most corrupt president of the modern era, continues his attempts to obscure his own crimes by bringing up Hillary Clinton’s alleged crimes, which Trump insists she committed as Secretary of State under President Obama.

Chants like “lock her up” continue to be chanted at Trump’s neo-fascist rallies, though it becomes more and more clear with each passing day that President Trump, an unindicted co-conspirator that his own lawyer Michael Cohen has implicated in election finance crimes, is the one who could face jail time.


Judging by his tweeting habits, Trump is getting less sleep these days. His last tweet overnight was sent at 12:21am ET. He was back at it early this morning, sending his next tweet at 5:57am, meaning that he got less than 6 hours of sleep—something that seems like a pattern this week. And all of that could partially explain why his unhinged and completely unfocused tweets come rapid fire, changing topics frequently. After weighing in on Reality Winner this morning, Trump tweeted about supposed “censorship” by the social media companies.

Social Media Giants are silencing millions of people,” Trump tweeted after his tweet about Reality Winner. “Can’t do this even if it means we must continue to hear Fake News like CNN, whose ratings have suffered gravely. People have to figure out what is real, and what is not, without censorship!”


It’s going to be one of those days. In 2018 it seems like it’s always one of those days.

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog


I keep forgetting her actual name is Reality Winner. I read half the article confused as to what reality show she was on or won, then it’s like - oh yeah, that is her actual name... who does that to their kid? Especially given the irony that spending up to 63 months in jail is not winning reality at all in my book.