(CN) — President Donald Trump said Thursday that he will pardon conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza who pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud.
“Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!” the president tweeted.
In a statement released later, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “Today, President Donald J. Trump issued an Executive Grant of Clemency (Full Pardon) to Dinesh D’Souza, an accomplished author, lecturer, and scholar.
“Mr. D’Souza was, in the President’s opinion, a victim of selective prosecution for violations of campaign finance laws. Mr. D’Souza accepted responsibility for his actions, and also completed community service by teaching English to citizens and immigrants seeking citizenship,” the statement said. “In light of these facts, the President has determined that Mr. D’Souza is fully worthy of this pardon.”
Trump also told reporters he was considering a pardon of Martha Stewart and commuting the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who he said has served “18 years in jail for being stupid and saying things that every other politician, you know that many other politicans say.
“I don’t know him other than that he was on ‘The Apprentice’ for a short period of time,” the president added.
Of Martha Stewart, Trump said he thought she too had been “harshly and unfairly treated.”
“She used to be my biggest fan in the world,” Trump said.Before I became a politician. But that’s okay, I don’t view it that way.”
D’Souza pleaded guilty to a felony in 2014 over his use of straw donors to make illegal contributions in a 2012 Senate race.
He was charged with illegally organizing $10,000 campaign donations from two people for Wendy Long’s 2012 Senate bid, which she lost to incumbent Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Long, who was never accused of any wrongdoing, later ran again for the senate, losing to incumbent Senator Chuck Schumer in 2016.
After his plea, D’Souza was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay a $30,000 fine for campaign finance fraud stemming from his use of straw donors to contribute to a U.S. Senate candidate in New York in 2012.
D’Souza raked in millions on a book and documentary film premised on the theory that President Barack Obama secretly works to subvert Western states in order to advance his father’s supposed anti-colonialist leanings.
Entertainment Weekly called that film, “2016: Obama’s America,” the highest grossing conservative documentary ever made, a “nonsensically unsubstantiated act of character assassination.”
The conservative darling styles himself as a defender of Christian morality and an opponent of people he casts as oppressive liberals in Washington. He initially maintained he was being selectively prosecuted for his controversial views.
As previously reported by Courthouse News, federal judge rejected his persecution claims, and D’Souza pleaded guilty on the morning earlier this year when he was scheduled to go to trial.
In doing so, D’Souza admitted to contributing $10,000 to Long’s campaign, making half of the donation in his name, and the other half in that of his wife, Dixie.
Months later, D’Souza urged his assistant and a “woman with whom he was romantically involved” to act as straw donors to support the Long campaign, prosecutors said in a written statement. Court papers revealed this lover to be Denise Odie Joseph, a married right-wing blogger. The New York Daily News reported that her husband Louis Joseph also donated.
Joseph and the secretary made $20,000 donations to the Long campaign, which D’Souza reimbursed.
D’Souza reportedly said he is estranged from his wife. However, in a blistering letter to the sentencing judge’s chambers, Dixie D’Souza said her “former husband” filed for divorce before he committed his crimes.
“I know Dinesh better than anyone and can attest to his flawed character and lack of truthfulness,” she wrote U.S. District Judge Richard Berman.
Previous reporting incorporated into this piece was by Adam Klasfeld in New York.