Dinesh D’Souza Pardon by Trump: What Was the Crime?

dinesh d'souza

Getty Dinesh D'Souza

President Donald Trump has announced that he will pardon the well-known conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza. What did Dinesh D’Souza do? What was his crime?

D’Souza was convicted of making an illegal campaign contribution. BBC provided further details, reporting that D’Souza “was convicted of making an illegal campaign contribution of $20,000…in 2014 to a New York politician. D’Souza was sentenced to five years of probation for violating federal campaign law.” According to the FBI press release in the case, D’Souza’s defense revolved around a claim of selective prosecution, which might have found empathy with Trump, who has been accusing the FBI of unfairly targeting his own campaign.

Who was the candidate? The FBI press release announcing D’Souza’s sentencing says the contribution was made to the Senate campaign of Wendy Long:

In 2012, the Election Act limited campaign contributions to $5,000 from any individual to any one candidate. In March 2012, D’SOUZA contributed $10,000 to the Senate campaign of Wendy Long on behalf of himself and his wife, agreeing in writing to attribute that contribution as $5,000 from his wife and $5,000 from him. In August 2012, D’SOUZA directed other individuals with whom he was associated, namely his assistant and a woman with whom D’SOUZA was romantically involved (the “Straw Donors”), to make contributions to Wendy Long’s campaign for the United States Senate (the ‘Long Campaign’) on behalf of themselves and their spouses that totaled $20,000 with the promise that he would reimburse them for the contributions. Later that same day or the next day, D’SOUZA, as promised, reimbursed the Straw Donors $10,000 each in cash for the contributions. When confronted by Ms. Long, D’SOUZA initially misled the candidate before admitting what he had done.

The press release continues: “During the plea proceeding, D’SOUZA admitted before the Court that he caused two close associates to contribute $10,000 each to the Long Campaign with the understanding that he would reimburse them for their contributions and that he did reimburse them. D’SOUZA also admitted that he knew that what he was doing was wrong and something the law forbids.”

Here’s what you need to know:

Trump Said D’Souza Was ‘Treated Very Unfairly’

Dinesh D'Souza

GettyDinesh D’Souza speaks at the Republican Leadership Conference in 2014.

Here’s Trump’s tweet:

Trump made the pardon announcement on Twitter on May 31, 2018, writing, “Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!” He did not provide further explanation, but the president has seemed to have a penchant for using his pardoning power to help those he thinks were targeted for political beliefs, as he previously pardoned controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.

D’Souza Was Prosecuted by Trump Foe Preet Bharara

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GettyConservative filmmaker and author Dinesh D’Souza speaks during the final day of the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on May 31, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The 2014 press release by the FBI reveals that D’Souza was prosecuted by Preet Bharara, then the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and now a frequent Trump critic. D’Souza “pled guilty to violating the federal campaign election law by making illegal contributions to a United States Senate campaign in the names of others,” says the FBI release.

“Dinesh D’Souza attempted to illegally contribute over $10,000 to a Senate campaign, wilfully undermining the integrity of the campaign finance process. Like many others before him, of all political stripes, he has had to answer for this crime – here with a felony conviction,” Bharara was quoted as saying in the FBI release.

The Sentence Included Community Service

dinesh d'souza

Conservative filmmaker and author Dinesh D’Souza speaks during the final day of the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on May 31, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

In addition to the probationary term “with confinement to a community center, Judge Berman sentenced D’Souza, 53, of San Diego, California, to a mandatory eight-hour day of community service every week of his five-year term of probation, weekly counseling sessions, and ordered him to pay a $30,000 fine, as well as a $100 special assessment,” the FBI press release reads.

Judge Berman previously “denied D’SOUZA’s pretrial motion to dismiss the indictment for selective prosecution, ruling that there was ‘no evidence’ to support D’SOUZA’s allegation. In sentencing D’SOUZA, Judge Berman referred to his prior ruling and remarked that ‘the defendant’s claim of selective prosecution, legally speaking, is ‘all hat, no cattle,’” the release says.

The president also recently granted a posthumous pardon that seemed designed to correct a historic racial injustice. He pardoned boxing great Jack Johnson, who was convicted due to an interracial relationship.

A 2015 article in Vanity Fair described D’Souza as “political pundit, writer, documentary-film maker, and onetime wunderkind of the intellectual elite.” D’Souza and Fox host Laura Ingraham were once engaged, but they never married. He also dated Ann Coulter.

This post will be updated with more information as it is known.