DOJ processing pardon case for ex-sailor who invoked ‘Clinton defense’

DOJ processing pardon case for ex-sailor who invoked ‘Clinton defense’
© Greg Nash

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly processing a pardon request by a former Navy sailor after he was released from prison for mishandling classified information by taking pictures of secret military technology.

A letter from the DOJ's Office of the Pardon Attorney says that the department is taking a new look at the former sailor's request less than a year after he got a letter rejecting his pardon bid, Fox News reported Friday.

“We will now be processing the application for presidential pardon of your client, Kristian Saucier,” the Office of the Pardon Attorney wrote in a February letter, according to the Washington Examiner.


A DOJ spokesman confirmed to the Examiner that there is a "pending case open" involving Saucier, 31.

Saucier, who served a 12-month sentence for taking photos of a submarine's nuclear propulsion system, was originally denied a pardon request by the DOJ in May 2017.

The former Petty Officer 1st Class originally faced up to 78 months in prison, but was given one year in prison and six months of home confinement after his lawyers invoked former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden sends 'best wishes' to Clinton following hospitalization The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle MORE's mishandling of classified information during the case.

“Honestly did it help our case? I’m sure it did,” said Greg Rinckey, one of Saucier's defense lawyers at the time. “We were very concerned that some people that are in high, powerful positions within the United States are selectively prosecuted. So I think it was a valid rationale." 

Saucier was convicted of a felony charge of retaining national defense information without authorization and received an "other-than-honorable" discharge from the Navy.

The latest DOJ letter asked the classification level of areas that Saucier photographed and requested the names of three references, his current attorney Ronald Daigle told Fox News.

“It was the lowest classification, it was confidential, the lowest you can get,” Daigle said.

The DOJ's decision to reconsider his pardon request came without any additional submitted information from Saucier's legal team, his lawyer told the Examiner.

Saucier's attorney said his legal team is now hopeful President TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE will follow through on the pardon, citing Trump's mention of Saucier's case in a tweet this year and indications he would consider a pardon. 

"We have renewed hopes that our president is going to get the opportunity to see our request and hopefully give my client his future back," Daigle said. 

In his January tweet, Trump decried the case as politically motivated while accusing a top aide to Clinton, his former presidential opponent, of violating security protocols.