President Trump on Thursday announced on Twitter that he will pardon Dinesh D’Souza, a controversial conservative pundit and provocateur who was convicted of violating federal campaign finance laws.
“Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!” Trump tweeted.
D’Souza told Yahoo News he appreciated the move.
“Obama and his stooges tried to destroy my American dream and faith in America. Trump has fully restored both. I’m very grateful,” he said.
Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on Thursday, Trump said he is also considering commuting the sentence of ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich as well as pardoning Martha Stewart. Blagojevich is serving the sixth year of a 14-year term for federal corruption. He is scheduled to be released in 2024.
Stewart was convicted in 2004 of obstructing justice and lying to federal investigators about a stock transaction. She served a five-month sentence and was released in 2005.
Both Blagojevich and Stewart appeared on Trump’s NBC reality show “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
Trump said Blagojevich said something “foolish” but “plenty of other politicians have said a lot worse.”
His sentence, Trump said, is “really unfair.”
Trump said Stewart was “harshly and unfairly treated.”
“She used to be my biggest fan in the world … before I became a politician,” the president added. “But that’s OK.”
In 2014, D’Souza was sentenced to five years of probation after he was convicted for illegal campaign donations to Republican candidate Wendy Long in 2012. D’Souza served the first eight months of his sentence in a community confinement center. Long lost her race against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
Trump told reporters that he had never met D’Souza and had spoken to him just once, on Wednesday night.
“Last night first time I’ve ever spoken to him,” the president said. “I said, ‘I’m pardoning you. Nobody asked me to do it.’”
“I read the papers,” Trump added. “I see him on television.”
But D’Souza has a long history of inflammatory remarks.
Recently, he mocked the student survivors of the Parkland, Fla., mass shooting after Tallahassee lawmakers voted down a bill to ban assault weapons.
“Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs,” he tweeted. (He apologized for the tweet but didn’t delete it.)
Among other things, D’Souza also falsely claimed that Adolf Hitler was not anti-gay.
Hitler was NOT anti-gay. He refused to purge gay Brownshirts from Nazi ranks saying he had no problem as long as they were good fighters
— Dinesh D’Souza (@DineshDSouza) October 6, 2017
He has also propagated a false conspiracy theory, accusing George Soros of being “collection boy for Hitler.” The comment is similar to tweets made recently by Roseanne Barr, whose TV show was canceled this week.
“Could it be that the organizer of the #Charlottesville rally is a left-wing fascist pretending to be a right-winger?” he said on Twitter.
Trump has also issued controversial pardons to former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who defied a court order to stop detaining people suspected of having immigrated illegally to the U.S., and to Scooter Libby, who was convicted in connection to leaking a CIA officer’s identity.
Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, a Trump critic who prosecuted D’Souza, responded to the news of D’Souza’s pardoning in a tweet. Bharara was fired by the Trump administration in March 2017.
“D’Souza intentionally broke the law, voluntarily pled guilty, apologized for his conduct [and] the judge found no unfairness,” Bharara wrote. “The career prosecutors and agents did their job. Period.”
Additional reporting by Alexander Nazaryan
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