Alleged NSA leaker met with Perdue staff months before arrest

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Alleged NSA leaker met with Perdue staff months before arrest

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Reality Winner during a vacation in Belize from Facebook.

The Augusta federal contractor who was charged Monday with leaking top-secret information to the press met with members of U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s staff earlier this year, the Republican’s office confirmed.

Reality Leigh Winner, a 25-year-old contractor with Pluribus International Corporation, posted a selfie with her eyebrows raised outside of the first-term senator’s Atlanta office to Facebook on Feb. 14.

“A great American once told us to go out and have conversations with one another,” Winner wrote in the post, in which she also wrote she was “feeling optimistic.”

A Perdue spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday that aides from the senator’s Atlanta office indeed met with Winner in February to discuss “environmental issues.”

Then-Senator-elect David Perdue in November 2014. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Our team meets with hundreds of Georgians monthly to discuss issues important to them,” the spokeswoman said in a statement. She said Perdue’s office does not ask about employment in routine meetings with constituents and that Winner’s work as a federal contractor did not come up then.

“The allegations against Ms. Winner are very serious, and if true, directly threaten our national security,” the spokeswoman said. “I trust our Justice Department will get to the bottom of this and handle it appropriately.”

Using a pseudonym, Winner frequently posted to Twitter about her liberal political views and her revulsion to President Donald Trump and his policies. Her feeds show she was particularly passionate about climate change, refugees, Syria’s civil war and the citizens of Iran, one of the U.S.’ top adversaries.

After a friend asked about her meeting with Perdue’s staff, Winner said it went “really well.”

“I can’t believe I got a private 30 minute meeting, and his state policy director is going to send me email updates on some of my concerns regarding climate change and what the state of Georgia is doing to reduce dependency on fossil fuels,” she wrote.

Winner said she also told Perdue staffers that senators should “not be afraid to directly state when our president or his cabinet tell outright lies.” She said her suggestion was “well heard.”

“I was able to draw the parallel between the 2011 interview of President Bashar al Assad claiming utter ignorance of the human rights violations his citizens were protesting,” Winner wrote, “to Trump’s statement last week that the White House hadn’t received any calls about the DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline), nor were there any protests before last week. They got the message.”

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