Trump to pardon conservative pundit Dinesh D'Souza, suggests he may do the same for Martha Stewart
Thu., May 31, 2018
WASHINGTONâ"U.S. President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he would offer a full pardon to conservative pundit Dinesh DâSouza, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to violating federal campaign finance laws but later said he was targeted for his conservative views.
The president, who has issued a series of pardons in recent months, said he is also considering leniency in number of other cases, including those of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich and Martha Stewart, the author and television personality.
DâSouza, 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 âcommunity confinement centreâ in San Diego, and a $30,000 (U.S.) fine.
Prosecutors said DâSouza had other individuals donate money to Republican Wendy Long, a Republican challenging Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2012, under the agreement that he would reimburse them f or the donations.
âWill be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh DâSouza today,â Trump wrote on Twitter on Thursday. âHe was treated very unfairly by our government!âArticle Continued Below
Trump later told reporters travelling with him on Air Force One 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 Obamaâs former Senate seat.
Bragging about getting something in return for a Senate appointment, Trump said, was âa stupid thing to say-but 18 years?â
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.
DâSouza 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, DâSouza released a movie titled 2016: Obamaâs A merica, which took a highly critical view of Obamaâs allegedly radical roots.
During an interview with syndicated talk show host Laura Ingraham on Thursday after Trump announced the pardon, DâSouza characterized prosecutors in the case as a âteam of goonsâ who gave him a disproportionate sentence.
In an opinion piece published earlier this month by Fox News, DâSouza said that in the FBI file on his case, he was âred-flagged as a political conservative who made a movie critical of President Obama.â
âWhy mention this?â DâSouza wrote. âThe FBI did it to signal to the Obama Justice Department and its stooges that I was a political enemy they might want to prosecute.âArticle Continued Below
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During his plea hearing in 2014, DâS ouza acknowledged wrongdoing.
âI knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids,â DâSouza said in court. âI deeply regret my conduct.â
Bharara weighed in on Trumpâs action shortly after it was announced, writing on Twitter that Trump had the right to pardon DâSouza but âthe facts are these: DâSouza 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.â
Some fellow conservatives, however, cheered Trumpâs move.
âBravo!â Sen. Ted Cruz wrote in a tweet in which he claimed DâSouza âwas the subject of a political prosecution, brazenly targeted by the Obama administration bc of his political views.â
DâSouza, Cruz added, is âa powerful voice for freedom, systematically dismantling the lies of the Left-which is why they hate him. This is Ju stice.â
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. DâSouza does not have an application on file, a Justice Department spokeswoman said.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has defended Trumpâs practices, telling a Senate panel in April that the president âclearly has the constitutional power to execute pardonsâ and is not obligated to confer with the Justice Department.
The issue took on heightened significance in March, when it was disclosed one of Trumpâs attorneys had earlier suggested the president could pardon former advisers targeted in the investigation into Russiaâs election interference.
In the wake of his sentencing, DâSouza continued to strongly criticize Obama, often in provocative ways. In 2015, f or example, DâSouza sent out a photo on Twitter of Obama appearing to photograph himself with a selfie stick.
âYOU CAN TAKE THE BOY OUT OF THE GHETTO... Watch this vulgar man show his stuff, while America cowers in embarrassment,â DâSouza wrote.
Trumpâs announcement about DâSouza 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 offences.
A tweet sent out by Kardashian West about her visit was later retweeted by Trumpâs eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.
DâSouza 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, Arizona, sheriff, who was held in criminal contempt for ignoring a court order related to the detention of immigrants suspected o f being in the country illegally; Kristian Saucier, a former Navy sailor convicted of unauthorized retention of national defence information; Lewis âScooterâ Libby, a former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice related to the leak of a CIA officerâs identity; and Jack Johnson, boxingâs 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 countryâs largest kosher meat packing plant, who was convicted of more than 80 counts of financial fraud.Read more about: TOP STORIES, DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX.NEW NEWSLETTERHEADLINESSIGN UPSource: Google News