Reality Winner, the former intelligence contractor jailed for leaking a top-secret Russian hack report, said on Friday she was “blown away” by the level of detail in the unsealed indictment against Donald Trump.
Winner became the first person to be prosecuted and subsequently convicted under the Trump administration for defying the Espionage Act by disclosing classified information. Now Trump faces 31 counts of willfully withholding national defense information – in violation of the Espionage Act – as well as other counts related to misrepresentation and conspiracy. to obstruct justice.
“This is probably one of the most egregious and straightforward cases,” Winner, 31, said in a phone interview with NBC News about allegations that Trump had sensitive government documents and attempted to mislead investigators.
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In August, FBI agents seized a trove of top secret and classified documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. At the time, Trump said he did not oppose the Justice Department’s motion to release the documents to the public and argued that anything he took from the White House “was entirely declassified”.
Trump aide Walt Nauta has also been charged with federal criminal charges in connection with the investigation.
The indictment against Trump marks the first time a former president has faced federal charges.
Winner said she considers the application of the Espionage Act to be inconsistent and vague. Civil liberties groups have also argued that the law needs to be updated and should be clearer on what is considered prohibited conduct while maintaining free speech guarantees for whistleblowing activity.
But Winner said the indictment against Trump is notable for its specificity about what he allegedly took and there was no indication he was acting for the greater good of the public.
According to the indictment, the documents “included information regarding the defense and armaments capabilities of the United States and foreign countries; United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to a military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack.”
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and maintained that the documents belong to him at will.
Winner said she hopes the indictment can serve as a guide when the Espionage Act is used against others and ultimately can protect whistleblowers and journalists.
“This is probably one of the most transparent and simple indictments that defines national defense information and gives the public an idea of the detailed description of each document, which is not how this particular law has been used against ordinary citizens,” Winner said. “So it could set the new legal standard for how it will be used in the future. Maybe it could give people like me who were acting out of moral conscience more leverage under the law.”
The winner was working for national security contractor Pluribus International in Fort Gordon, Georgia when prosecutors said she smuggled a classified report out of her pantyhose detailing Russian government efforts to crack a voting software provider based in Florida before the 2016 presidential election. This information was later reported by the media The Intercept.
Winner said she was motivated to act believing the American public was not getting the whole truth.
In an interview with NBC News in September, she said she admitted she broke the law and would not do what she did again. Instead, she said, she would have gone through the “appropriate channels” to raise her concerns as a whistleblower.
She said Friday that she still doesn’t believe Trump should go to jail if convicted, but that he could face house arrest or some other form of punishment.
“There’s no personal satisfaction in seeing someone I disagree with face legal consequences,” Winner said.
Her more restrained view of the former president, whose administration has taken a hard line on prosecuting those accused of national security leaks, comes after she was released from jail in June 2021 at a house of transition because of his good conduct. Winner was sentenced in 2018 to more than five years on a single count of transmitting national security information — then the longest federal prison sentence handed down for leaking to the media.
His life story is now the subject of an HBO drama, ‘Reality,’ which began airing last month on Max and stars ‘White Lotus’ star Sydney Sweeney in the title role. .
The winner said she didn’t watch the movie and couldn’t play the trailer after finding it “trigger”.
But she credits the film’s director, Tina Satter, for turning what was initially a stage play based on Winner’s FBI interrogation transcript into a movie. She also said she supported Sweeney.
“I’m so excited for her,” Winner said. “It’s amazing for a young starlet to take on a role where you don’t have to be sexy.”
This article originally appeared on NBCNews.com