Will pardon of ex-sailor, imprisoned for ‘mishandling classified information,’ require Trump to change stance on Hillary?

A former sailor sentenced to one year in in federal prison for mishandling classified information is pleading to President Donald Trump to pardon him for what he admits was wrong and without excuse.

Kristian Saucier of Arlington, Vermont, was sentenced to a year in prison for taking photos of classified areas inside a nuclear attack submarine despite his pleas that it was similar to how Hillary Clinton used a private server to send classified emails.

For Trump, a pardon could mean changing his stance -embodied through his campaign mantra, “lock her up”- on punishments for national security breaches.

Numerous media outlets are reporting how his case came to light and debating if the punishment fits the offense.

Supporters of Saucier, 29, say the one-year sentence he drew in 2016 is overly harsh in light of treatment afforded former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her illegal private email server, and former President Obama’s granting of clemency to Army Pvt. Chelsea (Bradley) Manning, who leaked thousands of classified documents sparking the WikiLeaks scandal, Fox News reports.

But what those supporters fail to realize is those were Obama’s decisions and were never considered by then President-elect Trump or his Vice President-elect as the proper course of action.

“…if either–either my son or Tim Kaine’s son, both of whom are serving our country as Marines, mishandled classified information the way Hillary Clinton did, they’d be at least court-martialed,” said then Vice President-elect Mike Pence during an interview on MSNBC.

The prosecution said Saucier took 12 highly sensitive photographs — including two from inside the Alexandria’s reactor department — with a cellphone camera and held on to them for years. Collectively, the prosecution said the photographs show the ship’s entire reactor-powered propulsion system and reveal, in close-up, key design elements. The images are said to show the ship’s location when they were taken, and a console indicating maximum dive depth, a closely guarded secret, according to the Hartford Courant.

In an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News, Saucier’s mother Kathleen said her son was taking pictures … not to give away national security secrets … but because he was proud of job and wanted to show is family where he worked. Hannity points out during the interview, that at the time of the offense, cell phones were not banned from Navy ships.

In an interview with The Day in September, the mom said her son took the photos as a keepsake of his time in the Navy, and that he never intended to distribute or sell them, as the government speculated. She described her son as being in the top 10 percent of his class at his Florida high school, and said that he could’ve had his choice of colleges, but chose to serve his country instead, Military.com reports.

Saucier, who is married and has a 2-year-old daughter, began his 12-month sentence in October 2016 at the Federal Medical Center at Fort Devens, Mass.

His lawyer reached out to the Trump administration due to comments during a heating exchange at the vice presidential debate.

Saucier’s attorney, Ronald Daigle, told Fox News that he met with Trump’s national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, about Saucier’s case, and at Flynn’s request submitted a formal pardon request.

In his pardon request, Saucier writes, “While my conduct in taking the six photos was admittedly wrong and without excuse, the Department of Justice’s heavy-handed response to my misconduct was certainly a product of the scrutiny brought about by a fervent political climate and not by the gravity of my misconduct.”

As suggested by the Daily Mail, part of the reason Saucier may have been treated so aggressively is the way he handled being found out. Initially denying he’d taken any pictures, and then destroying his laptop computer, a camera and a memory card after an initial interview with the FBI in 2012.

Another Saucier attorney Jeffrey Addicott, a retired Army lawyer who now teaches at St. Mary’s University School of Law in Texas, is representing the former sailor free of charge. Addicott is simultaneously seeking clemency for Saucier as reported in the Navy Times.

As President Obama released Manning and countless other drug offenders, and then justified his actions saying sentences didn’t fit their crimes, Addicott believes Saucier’s case is a perfect example of the punishment not fitting the crime.

“The reason this case cries out for clemency and pardon is just the gross injustice,” he said. “This is a matter of justice and justice isn’t just about whether you are guilty or not — he’s admitted that. It’s about the punishment as well.”

Daigle says that the photos he saw while in Iraq, where he had customs duty and had to go through belongings, “were far worse” than Saucier’s photos, according to the Fox News story.

He said that Saucier had an outstanding career, and had wanted to be in the service for the long haul.

“Kris was an absolute great performer who made rank quickly because he did so well,” Daigle said.

Daigle hopes that Saucier receives a pardon that would erase the conviction from his record, and commutation of his sentence.

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