Michael Cohen is working to free whistleblower Reality Winner jailed by the Trump administration


By Frances Mulraney For Dailymail.com

14:44 06 Oct 2020, updated 14:45 06 Oct 2020

  • Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen says he is working to secure compassionate release for a whistleblower imprisoned by the White House
  • Reality Winner, 28, was sentenced to five years in prison in 2018 for leaking documents detailing the Russian hack on the US election to the media
  • The former NSA contractor has been repeatedly denied compassionate release despite a coronavirus outbreak in the prison
  • Cohen said he is meeting with a lawyer this week to take a ‘deep dive’ on Winner’s case  
  • He claimed it was part of making amends for his previous life as Trump’s attorney
  • The same year Winner was charged for the Russian leak, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying about Trump’s business dealings in Russia

President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen says he is working to free a whistleblower imprisoned by the White House for leaking classified documents on Russian efforts to hack the US election. 

Former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner, 28, was sentenced to five years in prison in 2018 for supplying documents detailing the hack on US election infrastructure to a news website. 

Cohen, who the same year pleaded guilty to lying about Trump’s business dealings in Russia, told Business Insider he is meeting with an attorney this week to take a ‘deep dive’ into Winner’s case in the hopes of securing her compassionate release. 

He added that he felt undertaking Winner’s case was in part to ‘make amends’ for his previous life as the president’s attorney.  

Michael Cohen, the former lawyer for US President Donald Trump, has said he is working to secure compassionate release for a whistleblower imprisoned by the White House for leaking classified documents on Russian efforts to hack the US election to a news website
Reality Winner, 28, was sentenced to five years and three months in 2018 after leaking the documents detailing the hack on US election infrastructure to The Intercept. She has been repeatedly been denied compassionate release despite a coronavirus outbreak in her prison

‘I would like to pay it forward and see if I can help another innocent person who’s been railroaded by the system,’ Cohen told Business Insider. 

‘It’s only a small part of my need to make amends. 

‘I know what it’s like for a family to be torn apart and the sadness it brings,’ he added. ‘If I can help to alleviate that, I’d feel slightly better about myself.’ 

Cohen has also spoken to Winner’s mother Billie Winner-Davis, who has been outspoken in her defense of her daughter and argued that she is ‘a loving, caring, compassionate person’. 

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‘We had this amazing conversation,’ Winner-Davis said to Business Insider.

‘He talked with me about different ways that he could maybe help my daughter — you know, to get a good attorney involved with her team to try to get compassionate release for her.

‘This is a good guy who got wrapped up into a bad world,’ she added of Cohen.  

Winner pleaded guilty in 2018 to a single count of transmitting national security information for printing out a classified report at a NSA office in Augusta, Georgia, where she worked as a contractor and tucking it into her pantyhose.

The document, a description of Russian attempts to hack into US voting software, was leaked to The Intercept.

She was charged under the US Espionage Act and received the longest sentence ever handed out to a whistleblower. 

Winner (pictured right with her mother Billie Winnerr-Davis) in 2018 pleaded guilty to a single count of transmitting national security information for printing out a classified report at a NSA office in Augusta, Georgia, where she worked as a contractor and tucking it into her pantyhose
Federal Medical Center-Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, where Winner is serving her sentence. She was among more than 500 inmates to contract coronavirus in the prison in July

Winner, an Air Force veteran, was employed by NSA contractor Pluribus International Corporation in Georgia when she took the classified material.

Prior to her conviction, Winner referred to Trump as an ‘orange fascist’ in a tweet, and wrote in a diary ‘I want to burn the White House down’, according to prosecutors.

She also expressed admiration for the Taliban in the diary, prosecutors said.

Her mother told CNN last year that her daughter was painted as an ‘evil person, who hates her country’, as she lamented the lack of activist support for Winner. 

‘They don’t want the world to be exposed to the real Reality Winner,’ the mother told the cable news station in defense of her daughter.

Reality Leigh Winner, 28, is hoping Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen can now secure her compassionate release

Winner-Davis also expressed resentment earlier this year when Winner was denied compassionate release due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

She was among more than 500 inmates at the Federal Medical Center-Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, who tested positive for coronavirus in July. 

Cohen was among those freed from prison as a result the national outbreak and was to serve the rest of his sentence in home confinement. 

He was returned to custody in July when he refused to sign an agreement not to publish a tell-all book on Trump but was freed again two weeks later. 

‘As each chapter of this unfolds, I see just how corrupt our system really is, and I see just how powerless the average American is,’ Winner-Davis said of the refusal to release her daughter when those who worked for Trump like Cohen could walk free. 

She says that Winner is now feeling better but is tired of the prison’s ‘torturous’ lockdown and hopes Cohen can secure her compassionate release. 

Although due to be free on November 23, 2021, Winner believes her asthma and eating disorder make her more susceptible to being infected with COVID-19. 

Winner has also cited ‘depression’ as a reason to leave. 

Reality Winner, pictured, has cited her asthma and eating disorder, as well as depression, as the reasons why she should be let out of prison early on compassionate release
Winner, pictured, was charged under the US Espionage Act in 2018
Winner’s mother, Billie Winner-Davis, pictured, has said that her daughter is a ‘a loving, caring, compassionate person’ but has been painted as an ‘evil person, who hates her country’

US Attorney Bobby L. Christine acknowledged in a statement in 2019 that Winner’s sentence was the longest received by a defendant for an unauthorized disclosure of national defense information to the media, saying the sentence was merited by the crime.

‘She knowingly and intentionally betrayed the trust of her colleagues and her country,’ Christine said.

‘This was not a victimless crime,’ he added. ‘The document Winner compromised did, in fact, contain TOP SECRET information about the sources and methods used to acquire the intelligence described in the report.

‘That means it revealed how U.S. Intelligence Agencies obtained information,’ Christine said, adding that the leak impaired the ability of the U.S. to gather similar information in the future. 

Cohen, who once said he would ‘take a bullet’ for Trump, was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 for directing hush payments to pornographic film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claimed they had affairs with Trump. 

Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen stands behind the president in September 2016. Cohen has since called Trump ‘a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man’ in his tell-all memoir published earlier this year
Copies of Michael Cohen’s book ‘Disloyal, a Memoir: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump’ in which accused Trump of racism and sexism

Trump has denied having the encounters. 

Since his release, Cohen has published his memoir ‘Disloyal: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump’, in which he details his time working for the president. 

The book includes a number of salacious anecdotes, casting Trump as racist, sexist and pro-Russian. 

Cohen wrote that he was ‘one of Trump’s bad guys,’ while calling Trump ‘a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man’.

He wrote that during the 2016 campaign, Trump allegedly said that minorities were ‘not my people’ and that the president also supposedly claimed he would ‘never get the Hispanic vote,’ because, ‘Like the blacks, they’re too stupid to vote for Trump.’

The White House has called the memoir ‘sad’ and ‘fan fiction’. 

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