- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2018

President Trump announced Thursday that he was granting a pardon to conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza.

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

D’Souza was convicted of making an illegal campaign contribution in 2014.

He pleaded guilty to giving $20,000 to New York politician Wendy Long and was sentenced to five years probation, eight months in a halfway house and paid a $30,000 fine.

Mr. Trump said he did not have a personal relationship with D’Souza, and spoke to him for the first time Wednesday night when he called D’Souza to tell him about the pardon.

“Nobody asked me to do it,” Mr. Trump told reporters traveling with him on Air Force One. “I’ve always felt he was very unfairly treated.”

He said that a lot of people make illegal campaign contributions and that D’Souza should have gotten “a quick minor fine like everybody else with the election stuff.”

“What they did to him was horrible,” Mr. Trump said.

D’Souza has nettled Democrats with films such as “Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party” and “2016: Obama’s America.”

His pardon almost immediately came under fire from the left.

Donald Trump has sent a message to his friends and cronies that if you break laws to protect him or attack our democracy, he’s got your back. That’s the same message he’s been sending to Vladimir Putin for the last two years,” said David Donnelly, president of the liberal advocacy group Every Voice. “Contribution limits are a key bulwark against corruption in politics and pardoning the man who knowingly violated them is in direct conflict with his pledge to drain the swamp in Washington.”

The liberal group Public Citizen described the pardon as a “blazing signal” to Mr. Trump’s allies that they will be rewarded for loyalty amid special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

Karen Hobert Flynn, president of left-leaning Common Cause, said Mr. Trump showed his “contempt for the rule of law.”

Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney who prosecuted Mr. D’Souza, said a presidential pardon did not change the fact that Mr. D’Souza broke the law.

“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,” tweeted Mr. Bharara, an outspoken critic of the president.

Mr. Trump last year fired Mr. Bharara from his job as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

The pardon of Mr. D’Souza is the fifth pardon granted by Mr. Trump in 16 months in office.

He pardoned former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio for contempt of court; Kristian Mark Saucier for unauthorized retention of defense information; Lewis “Scooter” Libby for obstruction of justice and perjury; and boxing legend Jack Johnson for violating transporting a white woman across state lines.

Mr. Trump also commuted the sentence of Sholom Rubashkin, the former CEO of what was America’s largest kosher slaughterhouse and meat-packing plant. He was sentenced to 27 years in prison for bank fraud, a sentence the White House said was too harsh compared to typical sentences for similar offenses.

Rowan Scarborough contributed to this report.

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