In his second pardon since taking office, President Trump granted absolution to Kristian Saucier, a former Navy sailor sentenced in 2016 for unauthorized detention of defense information.
The case revolves around Saucier’s capturing images of a nuclear propulsion system in 2009, while serving as a machinist’s mate on the USS Alexandria, a nuclear attack submarine.
“(Saucier) has been recognized by his fellow service members for his dedication skill and patriotic spirit,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said when discussing the pardon.
According to Saucier and prosecutors, the former seaman took images of the propulsion system, reactor compartment, and control panels while docked at the New London Naval Base in Connecticut in 2009.
Saucier admitted his actions and described them as a desire to retain service mementos; he has always maintained he never shared the images.
Three years later, a superior discovered Saucier’s cell phone and the images. Following an interview with naval personnel and FBI agents, Saucier destroyed his camera.
Charged in 2015 with obstruction of justice and unlawful retention of national defense information, Saucier entered a plea of guilty in May 2016 and spent one year in jail. He was given an other-than-general discharge from the Navy in August 2016, which indicates conduct and performance departed from expected performance.
During legal proceedings, Saucier offered a unique argument in his defense: He compared his actions to the then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified material on a private server.
Saucier often repeated the claim his case was driven by politics amid Clinton’s email scandal.
Disregarding Saucier’s legal argument, U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill sentenced the former Navy petty officer to one year behind bars, four years less than minimum sentencing guidelines recommend.
Saucier was released in September 2017.
While campaigning for the White House in 2016, Trump often cited Saucier’s incarceration to Clinton’s behavior, and declared the case to be politically motivated.
Congratulations to Kristian Saucier, a man who has served proudly in the Navy, on your newly found Freedom. Now you can go out and have the life you deserve!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 10, 2018
[AP] [Washington Examiner] [Photo courtesy CBS News]