WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said he will grant a full pardon on Thursday to conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, who was sentenced in 2014 to five years of probation for federal campaign law violations.
“Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!” Trump said on Twitter.
D’Souza, 53, admitted in May 2014 that he illegally reimbursed two “straw donors” who donated $10,000 each to the unsuccessful 2012 U.S. Senate campaign in New York of Wendy Long, a Republican he had known since attending Dartmouth College in the early 1980s.
At the time, the government said a prison sentence of 10 months to 16 months was appropriate for D’Souza, and necessary to deter others from abusing the election process, including “well-heeled individuals who are tempted to use their money to help other candidates.”
D’Souza waited to “the last possible moment” prior to trial before admitting guilt, the government said, and then went on television shows and the internet to say he was “selectively” targeted for prosecution, and had little choice but to plead guilty.
The case against D’Souza, a critic of Democratic former President Barack Obama, prompted some conservatives to accuse the government of selective prosecution. The prosecutor in the case, then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan, was an Obama appointee.
D’Souza was born in Mumbai and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1991. He wrote the bestsellers “The Roots of Obama’s Rage” in 2010 and “America: Imagine a World Without Her” this year, and in 2012 co-directed the film “2016: Obama’s America.”
It was not the first time that Trump has pardoned a person revered by some of the political right. Last August, Trump granted a pardon to former Arizona lawman and political ally Joe Arpaio less than a month after he was convicted of criminal contempt in a case involving racial profiling of Hispanics.
Arpaio, the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America,” was known for his crackdown on illegal immigrants in Arizona’s Maricopa County and investigating unfounded Trump-supported claims questioning former President Barack Obama’s citizenship.
Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by David Gregorio and Jeffrey Benkoe