Well, lawyers said they were going to use Hillary Clinton as a precedent to try and get clients off with lesser sentences for future legal entanglements regarding classified information. In the case of Kristian Saucier, who took photos of the U.S.S. Alexandria’s propulsion system in 2009, he’s going to argue that before his sentencing later today. Saucier faces up to 6.5 years in jail, but his legal team is citing the treatment of Hillary Clinton, who had an unauthorized and unsecure private email system set up at her residence. Some of the communications that were received through that server were classified, though the former first lady denied such information passed through her server (via Politico):
Petty Officer First Class Kristian Saucier, 29, is set to be sentenced Friday on a single felony charge of retaining national defense information without permission. In May, Saucier pleaded guilty in federal court in Bridgeport, Conn., admitting that while working on the U.S.S. Alexandria in 2009 he took and kept six photos showing parts of the sub's propulsion system he knew to be classified.
The defense and prosecutors agree that sentencing guidelines in the case call for a prison term of 63 to 78 months, but defense attorney Derrick Hogan cited the treatment of Clinton as he argued in a filing last week that Saucier should get probation instead.
"Democratic Presidential Candidate and former Secretary of State Hilary [sic] Clinton...has come under scrutiny for engaging in acts similar to Mr. Saucier," Hogan wrote. He noted that FBI Director James Comey said 110 emails in 52 email chains in Clinton's account contained information deemed classified at the time, including eight chains with "top secret" information and 36 with "secret" information.
"In our case, Mr. Saucier possessed six (6) photographs classified as 'confidential/restricted,' far less than Clinton's 110 emails," Hogan wrote.
"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."
Director Comey stated that one of the reasons why he decided the FBI wouldn’t pursue criminal charges is the lack of intent regarding Clinton’s email use. There was no clear evidence that she intended to pass along classified information, though Clinton, as secretary of state, has classification authority; Comey made the point that Clinton was, more or less, not sophisticated enough to understand the classification markers. It should also be noted that in the federal statute regarding the handling of classified material, intent is not mentioned, nor is it required to build a criminal case. There was a standard for the mishandling of classified information. Clinton might muddy that precedent. Saucier broke the law. He should be sentenced, though if he gets close to the maximum—he’ll be doing time for a infraction that is arguably much less than what Clinton has done.