Trump pardons sailor convicted of photographing sub’s nuclear propulsion system
By WYATT OLSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 9, 2018
President Donald Trump has pardoned a Navy sailor who served 12 months in prison after pleading guilty to taking photos inside the submarine he served, the White House said Friday.
Kristian Saucier was a machinist's mate aboard the USS Alexandria from September 2007 to March 2012. He used the camera on his cellphone to take pictures of technical components of the sub’s nuclear propulsion system while it was docked at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton, Conn.
He pleaded guilty in May 2016 to unlawful retention of national defense information and obstruction of justice. His sentence ended in September.
Saucier had told officials that he had taken the photos as mementos of his time on the ship. His cell phone had been found in a landfill, and after the FBI questioned Saucier about the images on it, he destroyed a camera and computer in his home.
Trump was “appreciative of Mr. Saucier’s service to the country,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a briefing.
Trump told Fox News earlier this year that he was reviewing Saucier’s case.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump routinely compared Saucier’s case with that of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for official business. The U.S. Justice Department did not file charges against Clinton, which Trump claimed was an example of differing standards of prosecution for improper handling of classified material.
During Saucier’s sentencing hearing in August 2016, his attorneys argued that he was being treated more harshly than Clinton for mishandling classified material.
Jeffrey Addicott, a former Army attorney and director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary's Law School in Texas, filed a petition in January 2017 for a presidential pardon and clemency, while Saucier was still imprisoned. President Barack Obama took no action on the request during his last days in office.
“He has been recognized by his fellow servicemembers for his dedication, skills and patriotic spirit,” Sanders told reporters Friday. “While serving, he regularly mentored younger sailors and served as an instructor for new recruits. The sentencing judge found that Mr. Saucier’s offense stands in contrast to his commendable military service.”
Shortly before leaving office, Obama did pardon a retired Marine Corps general in a case involving disclosure of classified information.
James Cartwright, who had also been a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with reporters about Iran’s nuclear program.
Saucier’s pardon comes too late to commute his sentence, but it does restore all rights forfeited as a convicted federal felon.