National Security

Navy Vets Want Trump To Consider Pardoning Sailor For Taking Classified Photos

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Navy veterans are starting to warm up to the idea of President Donald Trump possibly pardoning a former Navy sailor in prison for taking photos of sensitive areas inside a nuclear submarine.

Trump recently mentioned that he’s looking into the details behind the Kristian Saucier case. Saucier, a former machinist mate, was convicted in 2015 of retaining national defense information without authorization, which took the form of photos of classified areas of the nuclear attack submarine the USS Alexandria.

Saucier is now serving a year-long prison sentence, though now that Trump has spoken out about the case after Saucier’s lawyer met with national security adviser Mike Flynn, Navy veterans are opening up to the idea that Trump might want to issue a pardon, The Day reports.

While several Navy vets told The Day that what Saucier did was wrong, they were largely in agreement that the punishment was too harsh.

Retired senior chief Rob Davis said the case should’ve been handled purely by the Navy, and added that the severe punishment didn’t fit the actual crime. Davis avoided outright pushing for a pardon, saying it was at the discretion of Trump, but noted others in the past have committed even worse acts and still received a pardon.

Still another retired senior chief, Bob Dulin, said that Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state in the Obama administration was “far worse” than Saucier’s photos, and yet she got off without any charges, whatsoever. Dulin said he would be fine with Trump pardoning Saucier or commuting his sentence.

However, despite common comparisons between Saucier and Clinton’s private email server containing classified info, not only did the prosecution in Saucier’s case reject any such comparisons or use of the “Clinton defense” as specious, Bill Dunlap professor of law at Quinnipiac University, also said the more apt similarity is between Saucier and retired Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright.

Cartwright, who is known widely as former President Barack Obama’s favorite general, received a pardon earlier in January, even though he lied to the FBI about the information he had given to journalists regarding the cyberattacks on Iran’s nuclear program.

Former 2nd class petty officer Phil Sengle told The Day he wouldn’t complain if Saucier were pardoned, even if he wasn’t entirely sure if that was the right decision. Dunlap noted that if Trump decides to pardon Saucier, he might invite criticism that the administration is “soft on national security.”

Additionally, even if Saucier were pardoned and the conviction erased, Dunlap said it’s unlikely Saucier would be able to return to the Navy.

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