Just days after the FBI announced it would not prosecute Hillary Clinton for her mishandling of classified information, U.S. Navy Petty Officer Kristian Saucier was sentenced to a year in prison for mishandling classified information, despite his plea for leniency based on the government’s refusal to prosecute Clinton.
Now, Saucier is out of prison, deeply frustrated at very different standards of justice applied to him and Clinton, and determined to erase his conviction and move forward with his life.
In early July 2016, then-FBI Director James Comey offered a long public statement explaining Clinton’s poor conduct but ultimately deciding not to recommend prosecution because he saw no criminal intent on Clinton’s part.
Saucier was a 22-year-old in the U.S. Navy in 2009 when he took six pictures of the propulsion system on board the nuclear submarine USS Alexandria, on which he was serving. Saucier says he knew he wasn’t supposed to take pictures in that part of the submarine but saw higher ranking personnel do it and simply wanted some memories of his proud service aboard the Alexandria.
Furthermore, those who were charged for taking such pictures usually received a slap on the wrist such as probation.
Saucier was charged with a felony for his actions in 2015. He was forced to accept a plea deal that still made him a felon. He was imprisoned in October 2016.
He argues the illegal acts for which he was punished don’t hold a candle to Clinton’s repeated misdeeds.
“These pictures were classified as confidential, which is the lowest tier of classification, whereas, in comparison, the things Hillary Clinton had on email were top secret SCI, which is the highest level of classification. So very different spectrums of what kind of damage it could have caused to national security,” said Saucier.
“I was prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for what’s called unlawful retention of national defense information. Basically, I possessed classified documents or images on an unsecured device, so exactly what Hillary Clinton did, but she didn’t get prosecuted because they said she didn’t have intent to cause national harm,” said Saucier.
“That’s not a prerequisite for the charge. So I was prosecuted with no intent to cause national harm. It was very clear to them that I had no intent. I was just taking these pictures as mementos, and it didn’t matter. They still prosecuted me, and I was facing possibly 10 years in prison,” said Saucier.
He says the takeaway for him and his family is obvious. The powerful are held to a different standard.
“They protect their own, so higher ups in our government are protecting each other. It’s the same with Gen. (David) Petraeus, who lied to the FBI and tried to spread disinformation. He was head of the CIA,” said Saucier.
“They’re protecting him. They’re protecting Hillary Clinton, and they’re protecting all the people that are in their little clique right there. Whenever it comes to an honest American citizen, they just go right after you,” said Saucier.
“If they can do this to somebody like me, who is a patriotic, honest American citizen who wanted nothing but to serve his country, and then looked the other way when people like Huma Abedin, John Podesta and Hillary Clinton break the same exact law to a far more egregious standpoint and nothing happens to them, it’s very upsetting,” he said.
Saucier believes he faced stiffer penalties because he was charged shortly after Clinton’s use of a private server was revealed.
“It happened during the height of the presidential election when there was a lot of visibility with the Hillary Clinton case and the Obama administration was trying to prove they were tough on people that mishandled classified information,” said Saucier.
He said that if the Justice Department had been serious, it would have prosecuted Clinton, since hers was a textbook case of mishandling classified information.
Nonetheless, Saucier and his attorneys used Comey’s exoneration of Clinton in a plea for leniency at sentencing.
“They argued that this just happened. She got caught mishandling classified information. She lied to the American public and lied, probably, to the FBI and she’s allowed to get off. [Lawyers] argued that based on my military service – two tours of duty in the Middle East and 11 years of honorable service – that I should be allowed to receive probation,” said Saucier.
District Court Judge Stefan Underhill was not moved and imposed the one-year prison sentence. Saucier said he wasn’t surprised.
“We argued it to a judge who was appointed by Bill Clinton, so it kind of fell on deaf ears,” he said.
Clinton’s explanation about her mishandling of classified information changed throughout 2015. First, she said there was no classified information transferred on her private server. Later, she said nothing was marked classified. Saucier said both claims are ridiculous.
“Hillary Clinton was what’s called an Original Classification Authority, so she’s capable, based on her training and the clearances that she possessed, of picking out things that aren’t classified and saying this is classified. So she’s able to lower classifications or heighten classifications. Her claiming ignorance to that is just insane,” said Saucier.
“She knew. She got more classification briefings than I ever did on the things that she was allowed to do and not allowed to do. So she knew exactly about taking emails from a secure government server and putting them on an unsecured server was wrong on so many levels. That’s Classification 101. You don’t do this sort of thing,” said Saucier.
Saucier also contests Comey’s conclusion that Clinton had no intent to commit a crime.
“It wasn’t just her. It was a series of other people. Now it’s a criminal conspiracy between her, Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin and John Podesta. Then they were clearly trying to destroy evidence, which is obstruction of justice, by Bleach Bitting their servers after they got found out.
“It’s a very clear case of the criminal mindset. If they didn’t think they were classified, why did they go through and try to delete them after they got caught?” he asked.
Saucier is now on home arrest after getting out of prison, meaning he cannot work. He was given a less than honorable discharge from the military, and his VA benefits are revoked. His family is bankrupt as a result of the huge legal fees he incurred after the government refused to allow him military counsel or provide a public defender.
He is now urging people to help him convince President Trump to issue a pardon to help him move forward
“If I get off house arrest and I get a presidential pardon, then I can fight to get my disability benefits back from the VA for service related injuries,” he said.
“We as the American people won’t accept that there’s a double standard in our country. I think if President Trump looks over my case again he’ll realize that’s what happened,” said Saucier.