Kristian Saucier, a former Navy man, was pardoned by President Donald Trump in a case the accused man compared to Hillary Clinton and her emails.
Saucier was convicted after an investigation into photos he took of classified areas of a nuclear submarine, the U.S.S. Alexandria, aboard which he was working as a machinest’s mate.
Trump touted the pardon on Twitter, writing, “Congratulations to Kristian Saucier, a man who has served proudly in the Navy, on your newly found Freedom. Now you can go out and have the life you deserve!”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Saucier Was Accused of Taking Photos of Classified Areas of a Nuclear Submarine & Using a Hammer to Destroy Evidence
According to the complaint, the FBI and NCIS investigated Saucier for “unauthorized gathering and possession of national defense information, to wit, photographs of classified sections of the U.S.S. Alexandria, a Los Angeles class nuclear attach submarine.” Saucier had taken the photos in 2009, but they were not found until 2012 – by happenstance.
The complaint alleges that Saucier to steps to “intentionally impede, obstruct or influence this FBI and NCIS investigation, from on or about July 16, 2012, to on or about a date unknown but not later than October 31, 2012.” The complaint alleges that Saucier “did knowingly destroy, mutilate and conceal a tangible object, that is, a laptop computer.”
From September 2007 to March 2012, Saucier served as a machinist’s mate aboard the USS Alexandria, which is a United States Navy Los Angeles Class nuclear attack submarine based at the Naal Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut.
On three separate dates in 2009, Saucier, “using the camera on his personal cellular telephone, took photographs of classified spaces, instruments and equipment of the USS Alexandria. These photographs depict information relating to our country’s national defense.”
Following his service on the USS Alexandria, Saucier was assigned to the Naval Nuclear Power Training Unit in Ballston Spa, New York, as an instructor candidate.
He denied being the person who took the photographs when confronted and then, following his interview with the FBI and NCIS, returned “to his then apartment where he collected a laptop computer, a personal camera, and the SD card from the camera, took these items ot the apartment’s basement, and smashed them with a hammer into several piece.”
He put the pieces in a plastic garbage bag which he then placed into a cardboard box that he left in the basement of the apartment. Hs family later “found a broken laptop computer in the woods on his grandfather’s property, which is located in Connecticut,” the complaint says.
In March 2012, a supervisor at a transfer station found a cellular telephone on top of a pile of trash in the middle of a dumpster and believed it had been discarded.After looking at the phone, the supervisor saw photographs that he believed were of a Navy ship and the ship’s instrument panels. He also saw photographs of Saucier, who he “knew from Saucier’s many trips to the waste station.” Saucier was remodeling his home and “would come to the dump to discard demolition waste regularly.” He gave the phone to a friend, who was a retired Navy Chief.
There were 12 original photographs capturing the inside of the engine room of the USS Alexandria. Some of them were taken between 3:55 a.m. and 4 a.m. Of the 12, six were classified as confidential/restricted data.
This classification was made by the Naval Reactors, the original classifying agency for all nuclear propulsion information for the Navy. The classification was made based “on their application of the Executive Order 13526 and the Atomic Energy Act of 1954.”
That exective order states that “unauthorized disclosure of information that could cause damage to national security shoud be classified as ‘Confidential.” The Atomic Energy Act says information “relating to the use of special nuclear material in the production of energy in the reactor plant of nuclear powered ships and protoypes is ‘restricted data.’”
Of the eight photographs taken in January, two were classified as confidential National Security Information. One was a photo of the “Reactor Compartment as viewed through one of its portals. The Reactor Compartment is the room within the engine room where the nuclear reactor is located that creates the power to operate and propel the submarine.”
Other photos created a “panoramic view of the three control panels in the Meanueving Comparment” and are so clear that a person could “read the gauges….from these photographs an engineer could determine significant design characteristics of a US nuclear sumbarmine including its reactor plant.”
The unauthorized disclosure of the photos “would cause damage to national security,” according to the Naval Reactors Program, because they could “provide countries with established or developing nuclear propulsion programs an advantage against the United States” because the information in the pictures was not publicly available and was detailed.
Saucier was working a 24-hour shift in the Engine Room at the times that the photos were taken.
Saucier told a friend “it was for myself, it’s not like I texted them to somebody.” He told another friend the FBI “had my old cell phone with photos I took” and said he was “screwed.”
2. Saucier Unsuccessfully Tried to Use Hillary Clinton In His Defense
Trump granted Saucier a “full and unconditional pardon.” The pardon says that Saucier was convicted in the United States District Court for the district of Connecticut on an indictment. He was sentenced on August 19, 2016 to 12 months imprisonment and three years supervised release, conditioned upon six months home confinement and the performance of 100 hours community service.
During his defense, Saucier tried to raise Hillary Clinton’s emails, citing 110 classified emails that were found on her personal server. He argued that he should receive the same leniency she received, as FBI Director James Comey famously declined to refer criminal charges against Clinton during the 2016 presidential election.
His defense attorney called the two cases similar and said it was unjust that Saucier received prison when Clinton did not, according to NBC News.
He served a year behind bars and White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the news media that Saucier “has been recognized by his fellow service members for his dedication, skill and patriotic spirit.”
3. Saucier Wrote a Book & His Wife Posted a Video of Him Cutting Off His Monitoring Bracelet
Saucier is married. His wife, Sadie Saucier, has used her Twitter page to rally support for his cause. “Proud Navy ⚓️Veteran Wife of Kris Saucier 11yrs served and destroyed by our governments corrupt justice system http://www.helpkrissaucier.com sign the petition 🇺🇸,” the page’s profile says.
Saucier wrote a book called American Double Standard: Patriot vs. Politician. Sadie released a video of the couple cutting off Saucier’s electronic monitoring bracelet after Trump’s pardon.
The couple has a small child together named Cassandra
4. The Family Was Facing Foreclosure & Lacked Health Care
Despite the pardon, Kristian Saucier and his family have struggled a great deal as a result of the conviction, including a home foreclosure. There is a YouCaring site to raise money for the family that has raised over $31,000.
“Above picture is my husband Kristian Saucier Navy Veteran sailor of 11years.October 12,2016 he left a 17months old and myself to serve time in Federal Prison,” his wife, Sadie, wrote on the YouCaring site. “There is a lot to the story I encourage you to visit Facebook @freekrissaucier or American Patriots Against Double Standards to understand and read.The reason for this fundraising is we have lost so much this man has worked so hard protecting our country for.My fear is that the struggles of foreclosure keeping heat on electricity food insurance We have no health care presently as well With that there are many homeless Veterans out there and my fear is not only will we have a homeless veteran when my husband is released but a homeless Veterans family.”
She added, “Please share and support if you can My husband has never asked for a handout and is very proud and hard working It is hard to beg strangers for help But pride has been pushed aside and I ask for any help for our family and please visit Facebook it’s a double standard and there are many more than just my husbands story Thank you Saucier Family Navy Vet Wife~Sadie Saucier and daughter Kassandra.”
5. Saucier Called Donald Trump an ‘Amazing Man’ & Now Collects Garbage
According to The Washington Post, Kristian Saucier now works as a garbage collector.
Kristian Saucier was only the second person Trump has pardoned. The first was controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Saucier had kind words for the president after the pardon.
“He’s an amazing man, and this is just one of the many great things that he’s done in his term,” Saucier said.
His mother, Kathleen Saucier, worked to secure the pardon with others and told The Post “I had to sit on the floor because I was crying so hard. I’m just so grateful. I’m so grateful.”
Trump once said of Saucier: “He wanted to take a couple of pictures. They put him in jail for a year.”