by Jon Guze
Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
In a previous Locker Room post I reported speculation among lawyers that the FBI’s decision not to recommend prosecution of Hillary Clinton for violating national security law might offer them a new tactic for defending less celebrated clients accused of similar crimes, “especially if Clinton is elected president in November.”
It turns out some lawyers aren’t bothering to wait until after the election. Kristian Saucier is a Machinist Mate in the U.S. Navy who pled guilty to “the unauthorized retention of defense information” because of photographs he took while serving onboard a nuclear submarine. Last week his lawyer filed a legal memorandum requesting a non-custodial sentence for Mr. Saucier. In addition to citing the officer’s “remorsefulness and acknowledgement of responsibility,” the memorandum points out that:
Democratic Presidential Candidate and former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton…has come under scrutiny for engaging in acts similar to Mr. Saucier…. Mr. Saucier possessed six (6) photographs classified as ‘confidential/restricted,’ far less than Clinton’s 110 emails… It will be unjust and unfair for Mr. Saucier to receive any sentence other than probation for a crime those more powerful than him will likely avoid.
Although not mentioned in the request, two more things seem relevant. First, Saucier showed remorse and acknowledged responsibility, whereas, Clinton has done neither. Second, whereas Clinton has not been punished in any way for her transgressions, even if he avoids prison Saucier will probably receive an OTH (“other than honorable”) discharge from the Navy and for the rest of his life he will bear the stigma of a felony conviction for violating national security law. Maybe Hillary will pardon him after she’s elected!
Update: This post originally mischaracterized the likely terms of Saucier’s discharge. H/T to Michael Lowrey for catching the mistake and letting me know.