President Trump tweeted Tuesday there’s a double standard in the government’s treatment of Hillary Clinton and her aide Huma Abedin, pointing to Kristian Saucier, a former Navy sailor jailed for taking six photos inside a submarine.
Saucier, 31, was released from prison in September after receiving a one-year sentence for mishandling classified information. With a felony conviction, he now works up to 70 hours a week collecting garbage in Vermont.
“Obviously with his tweet today he still recognizes my case, so hopefully he will do something about it. I think my family and I have been punished enough," Saucier told the Washington Examiner. "I made an innocent mistake as a kid, it wasn’t planned like Hillary Clinton and them blatantly flouting the law."
The home where Saucier lives with his wife and two-year-old daughter is in foreclosure and credit card debt collectors call frequently. His cars were repossessed while he was in prison and the family has a payment plan for their electricity bill.
Because he has an other-than-honorable discharge, Saucier doesn’t get veteran benefits, including disability payments for service-related injuries. He wears an ankle monitor until April.
But most frustratingly to Saucier, a felony record makes finding a job difficult.
“We’re struggling,” he said. “No one will hire me because I’m a felon ... All the skills I worked so hard for in the military are useless.”
Trump invoked Saucier repeatedly during the presidential campaign and days after taking office told Fox News host Sean Hannity in January he was “looking at” a pardon because “it’s very unfair in light of what’s happened with other people.” But Trump didn’t give a pardon, leaving Saucier to serve his full sentence in prison.
Saucier, who served 11 years in the military, including two tours in the Middle East, at times felt like he had been used as a disposable campaign prop, until Trump’s tweet Tuesday.
The president tweeted: “Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid, Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others.”
Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid, Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018
Saucier learned of his penalty during the height of last year's presidential campaign. His lawyers unsuccessfully requested what they called the "Clinton deal," meaning little if any punishment.
Saucier pleaded guilty to unlawfully retaining national defense information by taking the six photos inside the USS Alexandria with his cellphone in 2009, when he was 22 years old and working as a machinist mate in Connecticut.
Saucier argued the photos were innocent keepsakes and pointed to two co-workers caught taking photos inside the sub's engine room who were not prosecuted. Prosecutors cast doubt on the explanation and said his conduct could have harmed the country, though there was no evidence that happened. Some of the shots depicted the vessel's nuclear reactor.
He told the Washington Examiner on Tuesday many veterans have privately confided they did similar things to remember their military service.
The photos, discovered by someone who found Saucier's phone in the trash, were deemed "confidential," the lowest level for classification. By contrast, the FBI's investigation found Clinton's private email server contained at least 110 emails with classified information — including eight email chains with "top secret" information, 36 with "secret" information and eight with confidential information.
Trump eagerly compared the cases during the campaign.
"That's an old submarine; they've got plenty of pictures, if the enemy wants them, they've got plenty of them. He wanted to take a couple of pictures. They put him in jail for a year," Trump said at one event.
Saucier admitted he knew he was not supposed to have taken the photos and conceded he attempted to destroy evidence after authorities questioned him. Clinton, by comparison, insisted she did not knowingly send or receive classified information using her private email server. Although Clinton emails were deleted, authorities did not allege that was part of a coverup.
FBI Director James Comey said in July 2016, just before Saucier's August sentencing, Clinton should not face charges despite her "extremely careless" handling of classified information as secretary of state because there was not sufficient evidence of criminal intent.
Immediately after his release from prison, Saucier said he would like a pardon to restore his good name and his ability to own guns. Now, he said, the life-inhibiting consequences of a felony conviction are increasingly clear.
"It’s been overly simplified in the media: I went to prison and it messed my life up for a little bit," Saucier said. "If he were to pardon me it would send a clear message that he was trying to correct the wrongs of the Obama Justice Department."
“It’s good to see he’s actually pointing out the Department of Justice and the FBI under corrupt Comey and the other guy who’s obviously a Clinton crony, they clearly went after me without any kind of leash on them but they were rushing to exonerate Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin before they even interviewed them. It shows there was a clear double standard of justice," he said.
Trump has issued a single pardon, in August nullifying the guilty verdict against former Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was awaiting sentencing for misdemeanor contempt of court. Trump issued his first prison commutation last month, allowing Sholom Rubashkin out of prison seven years into a 27-year sentence.
Rubashkin’s Iowa business was caught employing nearly 400 illegal immigrants in 2008, but prosecutors won convictions for financial charges after the business went bankrupt.