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Trump Pardons Dinesh D’Souza for Campaign Finance Conviction

“Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!” Trump tweeted.

Trump Pardons Dinesh D'Souza for Campaign Finance Conviction
Trump Pardons Dinesh D’Souza for Campaign Finance Conviction

President Donald Trump announced unexpectedly Thursday that he is granting a full pardon to Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative author and filmmaker who pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance laws in 2014 after he was indicted earlier that year on charges that he illegally used straw donors to contribute to Republican Senate candidate Wendy Long in New York in 2012.

D’Souza, an author and filmmaker, was indicted on charges that he illegally used straw donors to contribute to a Republican Senate candidate in New York in 2012. He was sentenced to five years of probation, including eight months living under supervision in a “community confinement center” in San Diego, and a $30,000 fine.

Prosecutors said D’Souza had other individuals donate money to Republican Wendy Long, a Republican challenging Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., in 2012, under the agreement that he would reimburse them for the donations.

Trump, who announced his plans for the pardon on Twitter, later told reporters traveling with him on Air Force One that he had long felt D’Souza’s sentence was too harsh.

“I’ve always felt he was very unfairly treated,” Trump said. “And a lot of people did, a lot of people did. What should have been a quick, minor fine, like everybody else with the election stuff. . . . What they did to him was horrible.”

Trump also relayed that he is considering commuting the remainder of the sentence of Blagojevich, who was convicted in 2010 on charges relating to the selling of President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat.

“What he did does not justify 18 years in a jail,” Trump said. “If you read his statement, it was a foolish statement, there was a lot of bravado. But . . . plenty of other politicians have said a lot worse. And . . . he shouldn’t have been put in jail.”

Trump also cited the case of Stewart, who was convicted in 2004 of obstructing justice and lying to investigators about a well-timed stock sale.

“I think to a certain extent Martha Stewart was harshly and unfairly treated,” Trump said. “And she used to be my biggest fan in the world . . . before I became a politician. But that’s OK, I don’t view it that way.”

A senior White House official said as many as a dozen other pardons are under consideration by Trump, adding that most are likely to happen.

“There are going to be more,” said the official, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the issue.

Blagojevich, who has been seeking assistance from Trump, wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal earlier this week in which he echoed some of Trump’s concerns about the Justice Department and FBI, saying that “the rule of law is under assault in America.”

“I learned the hard way what happens when an investigation comes up empty after the government had invested time, resources and manpower,” Blagojevich wrote. “When they can’t prove a crime, they create one.”

Both Stewart and Blagojevich have ties to “The Apprentice,” Trump’s long-running reality television series on NBC.

Stewart as the host of a short-lived spinoff, “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart,” in 2005.

Blagojevich was a contestant on “Celebrity Apprentice” in 2010, after he was indicted but before his convictions. Trump praised Blagojevich at the time for having “a lot of guts” to appear on the program.

D’Souza claimed he was targeted by the office of then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara because he was an outspoken critic of President Barack Obama and a prominent conservative activist. In 2012, D’Souza released a movie titled “2016: Obama’s America,” which took a highly critical view of Obama’s allegedly radical roots.

“Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!” Trump tweeted.
Trump Pardons Dinesh D'Souza for Campaign Finance Conviction
Trump Tweets
Trump, who signed the paperwork formally pardoning D’Souza before announcing it on Twitter, had never met or spoken with D’Souza before this week. He told reporters aboard Air Force One Thursday that he called him for the first time Wednesday night to inform him that he would be pardoning him.
The two spoke for nearly three minutes, according to the President.
Trump Pardons Dinesh D'Souza for Campaign Finance Conviction
Dinesh D’Souza Tweets

 

“He almost had a heart attack,” Trump said.

In a tweet celebrating his pardon, D’Souza said “(President Barack) Obama & his stooges tried to extinguish my American dream & destroy my faith in America. Thank you @realDonaldTrump for fully restoring both(.)”
D’Souza’s wife confirmed Cruz’s role on Twitter.
“I want to thank @realDonaldTrump for giving my husband a pardon but I particularly want to thank @SenTedCruz for putting it on his radar and helping make it happen! So grateful!” Debbie D’Souza tweeted.
Trump Pardons Dinesh D'Souza for Campaign Finance Conviction
Debbie D’Souza Tweets

The official White House statement on D’Souza’s pardon said he was, in the President’s opinion, “a victim of selective prosecution for violations of campaign finance laws.”

“Mr. D’Souza accepted responsibility for his actions, and also completed community service by teaching English to citizens and immigrants seeking citizenship. In light of these facts, the President has determined that Mr. D’Souza is fully worthy of this pardon,” the statement said.
Trump said Thursday that he is also considering pardoning Martha Stewart and pardoning or commuting the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Both were stars with Trump on NBC’s “The Apprentice” franchise.
The President told reporters that Blagojevich had said something “stupid” but that it was similar to what other politicians have said and called the 18-year sentence “really unfair.” He added that “plenty of other politicians could have said a lot worse.”
D’Souza was sentenced to five years of probation, including eight months living under supervision in a halfway house and a $30,000 fine.
Trump Pardons Dinesh D'Souza for Campaign Finance Conviction
Trump Pardons Dinesh D'Souza for Campaign Finance Conviction
Jeanine Pirro Tweets

“I knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids,” D’Souza had said at his plea hearing. “I deeply regret my conduct.”

D’Souza is a contentious figure who once accused then-President Barack Obama of adopting “the cause of anti-colonialism” from his Kenyan father in a 2010 Forbes magazine cover story, when Obama was in office. In the piece, he referred to Obama’s father as a “philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions.” He also once argued that Adolf Hitler was not “anti-gay.”
Trump Pardons Dinesh D'Souza for Campaign Finance Conviction
Preet Bharara Tweets

“Dinesh D’Souza is an individual who, you know, has made restitution and accepted responsibility for his actions, but these are infractions and crimes that are rarely prosecuted, and many believe that he was the subject of some selective prosecution from the previous administration,” White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said on Fox News Thursday.

“Nonetheless, he’s accepted responsibility and the President believes it’s appropriate that he receive a pardon after community service, paying a fine, and doing other things that the judge has required,” Shah said.
D’Souza once called on comedienne Rosie O’Donnell to be prosecuted for violating campaign finance laws in a fashion similar to his case.
A Justice Department spokesperson confirmed Thursday that Trump’s pardon of D’Souza did not go through the department’s Office of Pardon Attorney.
In the past, the Office of the Pardon Attorney has assisted the White House on clemency petitions — though it is not constitutionally required.
Fox News host and former judge Jeanine Pirro called D’Souza’s pardon “fantastic news.”
“Obama’s political prosecution null and void,” she added.
Preet Bharara, who brought charges against D’Souza when he was US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, asserted that there was no unfairness in the case.
“The President has the right to pardon but the facts are these: D’Souza intentionally broke the law, voluntarily pled guilty, apologized for his conduct & the judge found no unfairness. The career prosecutors and agents did their job. Period,” Bharara, a CNN senior legal analyst, tweeted, along with a link to D’Souza’s guilty plea.
Though past presidents have waited until the end of their term for controversial pardons, Trump has granted clemency to four people during his first 16 months in office. His pardons include former Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in an investigation into leaking the identity of a CIA officer, and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt in a case related to his hard-line tactics with undocumented immigrants.
The President did not use the Office of the Pardon Attorney for the pardons for Arpaio or Libby.
Trump was visibly irked last month when a reporter asked if he would consider a pardon for Michael Cohen, his longtime attorney who is now under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations.
“Stupid question,” Trump responded.

During an interview with syndicated talk show host Laura Ingraham on Thursday after Trump announced the pardon, D’Souza characterized prosecutors in the case as a “team of goons” who gave him a disproportionate sentence.

In an opinion piece published earlier this month by Fox News, D’Souza said that in the FBI file on his case, he was “red-flagged as a political conservative who made a movie critical of President Obama.”

 

“Why mention this?” D’Souza wrote. “The FBI did it to signal to the Obama Justice Department and its stooges that I was a political enemy they might want to prosecute.”

D’Souza also cited a recent news report about the possibility that comedian Rosie O’Donnell had made contributions over the legal limit to Democratic candidates and said the “far-left, Trump-bashing O’Donnell should get the same treatment” he did.

During his plea hearing in 2014, D’Souza acknowledged wrongdoing.

“I knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids,” D’Souza said in court. “I deeply regret my conduct.”

Bharara weighed in on Trump’s action shortly after it was announced, writing on Twitter that Trump had the right to pardon D’Souza but “the facts are these: D’Souza intentionally broke the law, voluntarily pled guilty, apologized for his conduct & the judge found no unfairness. The career prosecutors and agents did their job. Period.”

Some fellow conservatives, however, cheered Trump’s move, including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who had lobbied the White House to issue the pardon.

 

“Bravo!” Cruz wrote in a tweet in which he claimed that D’Souza “was the subject of a political prosecution, brazenly targeted by the Obama administration [because] of his political views.”

D’Souza, Cruz added, is “a powerful voice for freedom, systematically dismantling the lies of the Left – which is why they hate him. This is Justice.”

The pardon would mark the latest instance of Trump deviating from the normal pardon process.

Generally, those seeking pardons must wait five years from the date they are released from confinement before becoming eligible, and they must apply to the Office of the Pardon Attorney. D’Souza does not have an application on file, a Justice Department spokeswoman said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has defended Trump’s practices, telling a Senate panel in April that the president “clearly has the constitutional power to execute pardons” and is not obligated to confer with the Justice Department.

 

The issue took on heightened significance in March, when it was disclosed one of Trump’s attorneys had earlier suggested the president could pardon former advisers targeted in the investigation into Russia’s election interference.

In the wake of his sentencing, D’Souza continued to strongly criticize Obama, often in provocative ways. In 2015, for example, D’Souza sent out a photo on Twitter of Obama appearing to photograph himself with a selfie stick.

“YOU CAN TAKE THE BOY OUT OF THE GHETTO… Watch this vulgar man show his stuff, while America cowers in embarrassment,” D’Souza wrote.

Trump’s announcement about D’Souza came a day after reality television star and socialite Kim Kardashian West visited the White House to lobby Trump and his staff to pardon Alice Marie Johnson, 63, a grandmother serving a life sentence for nonviolent drug offenses.

A tweet sent out by Kardashian West about her visit was later retweeted by Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.

D’Souza will be the latest in a string of high-profile recipients of pardons that Trump has offered since taking office.

Others receiving pardons from Trump: Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County, Ariz., sheriff, who was held in criminal contempt for ignoring a court order related to the detention of immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally; Kristian Saucier, a former Navy sailor convicted of unauthorized retention of national defense information; Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a former chief of staff to Vice President Richard Cheney who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice related to the leak of a CIA officer’s identity; and Jack Johnson, boxing’s first black heavyweight champion, convicted of breaking a Jim Crow-era law.

Trump has also commuted the sentence of Sholom Rubashkin, the former chief executive of what was once the country’s largest kosher meatpacking plant, who was convicted of more than 80 counts of financial fraud.

Source: edition.cnn.com, chicagotribune.com

Azad Hind News

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