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Michael Cohen trying to get NSA leaker Reality Winner out of prison

Reality Winner, who pleaded guilty in June to leaking top-secret government documents about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, arrives at the federal courthouse where she was sentenced in a federal court on Aug. 23, 2018 in Augusta, Ga. (Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)
October 07, 2020

President Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen is now working to secure the release of former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Reality Winner, who was convicted of leaking classified NSA information.

Cohen told Business Insider he was meeting with a lawyer this week to take a “deep dive” into Winner’s case, with the goal of winning her compassionate release from prison during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Winner was sentenced in 2018 to five years in prison.

Winner was sentenced for leaking a classified NSA document describing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The document, which was shared with The Intercept, described intelligence assessments of at least one attempt to hack a supplier of U.S. voting software and other spear-phishing emails sent to more than 100 election officials days before the 2016 election.

Business Insider reported Cohen sees the effort as one to free a woman who revealed Russian electoral interference undertaken to help his former client win an election. Cohen described his efforts as “a small part of my need to make amends” for his work on behalf of Trump.

To date, no collusion has actually been established between Trump and his campaign and the Russian government, though investigators have determined there were Russian efforts to boost then-presidential candidate Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton’s 2016 bid for the presidency, as well as a broader goal to sow discord within U.S. electoral politics and governance.

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“I know what it’s like for a family to be torn apart and the sadness it brings,” Cohen told Business Insider. “If I can help to alleviate that, I’d feel slightly better about myself.”

Cohen himself was imprisoned for multiple counts of tax evasion, campaign finance violations, and lying to Congress about Trump’s business activities in Russia. He was granted compassionate release from prison in July, allowing him to serve part of his sentence from home confinement. Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was found guilty of tax fraud and financial crimes charges, was also granted compassionate release during the coronavirus pandemic.

Reality Winner’s mother, Billie Winner-Davis, speaking to Business Insider over the Summer expressed disappointment that her daughter has not been similarly granted compassionate release during the pandemic. In a phone call Monday, Winner-Davis told Business Insider that she and Cohen “had this amazing conversation,” about winning compassionate release for her daughter.

“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,” Winner-Davis said.

The Daily Mail reported Winner has asthma, an eating disorder, and depression, all of which she has cited as making her more susceptible to COVID-19, to which she has argued as grounds for her compassionate release.