Trump pardons ex-Navy sailor who cited Clinton in his defense

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By Ali Vitali

WASHINGTON — The White House announced Friday that President Donald Trump had pardoned Kristian Saucier, a Navy submariner who unsuccessfully tried to use Hillary Clinton's personal e-mail server in his defense during a trial for taking pictures of a classified area.

Saucier, a petty officer, was sentenced in August 2016 to 12 months in prison after taking photos inside the engine room on the USS Alexandria, a nuclear attack submarine. The pictures taken of the vessel's propulsion system were classified "confidential," the lowest level of classification.

He admitted to taking the photographs on his personal cellphone, but argued for leniency — citing 110 classified emails found on Clinton's personal e-mail server.

Defense attorney Derrick Hogan wrote that the two instances were "similar," and that because Clinton was not brought up on charges it would be "unjust and unfair" to give Saucier a harsher sentence than probation.

The Clinton defense didn't keep Saucier out of jail, but one of Saucier's attorneys said at the time of the sentencing that it probably helped lessen his client's sentence.

Noting that Saucier served out his yearlong sentence, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Saucier "has been recognized by his fellow service members for his dedication, skill and patriotic spirit" and that "the sentencing judge found that Mr. Saucier's offense stands in contrast to his commendable military service."

A pardon doesn't erase the conviction, nor does it signify innocence, but it does remove certain civil limitations that can be imposed because of a crime, such as the ability to contract with the federal government, and it also "should lessen the stigma arising from the conviction," according to the Justice Department.

This is Trump's second use of the presidential pardon. His first went to longtime supporter and controversial former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt after ignoring a judge's order not to detain suspected undocumented immigrants.