President Trump pardons Dinesh D’Souza

 
"Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!" Trump wrote in a morning tweet as he traveled to Texas to attend political fundraisers.
 
Hours later, the White House issued a statement explaining Trump believed D’Souza was the “victim of selective prosecution for violations of campaign finance laws” and that he “accepted responsibility for his actions.” 
 
The president told reporters aboard Air Force One that he did not know D’Souza but learned about his case because "I read the papers, I see him on television.”  
 
“I never met him, I called him last night, first time I’ve ever spoken to him, I said, I’m pardoning you. Nobody asked me to do it,” the president said, adding that “a lot of people” felt he should have been pardoned. 
 
“What should have been a quick minor fine, like everybody else with the election stuff,” Trump said. “What they did to him was horrible.” 

D’Souza is serving five years probation for illegally using straw donors to support Republican Senate candidate Wendy Long in 2012. He previously served eight months in a halfway house for the crime, which is a felony, and was ordered to pay a $30,000 fine.

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Long and D’Souza were friends from Dartmouth College, and he was a vocal supporter of her campaign against New York Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandNow is the time for a US data protection agency The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren up, Bloomberg down after brutal debate Ginsburg, accepting lifetime achievement award, urges working fathers to take an active role in kids' lives MORE (D).

D’Souza thanked Trump on Twitter for his pardon, writing: “Obama & his stooges tried to extinguish my American dream & destroy my faith in America. Thank you @realDonaldTrump for fully restoring both.”

Soon after his guilty plea, D’Souza claimed he was targeted by the Obama administration for political reasons. 

"The Obama administration tried to shut me up," he said in his 2016 film, “Hillary’s America.” "If you make a film criticizing the most powerful man in the world, expect the empire to strike back."

His case became a cause célèbre for some on the right, who cheered Trump’s decision. 

“Bravo! @realDonaldTrump Dinesh was the subject of a political prosecution, brazenly targeted by the Obama administration bc of his political views. And he’s a powerful voice for freedom, systematically dismantling the lies of the Left—which is why they hate him. This is Justice,” tweeted Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPompeo to speak to influential conservative group in Iowa Top National Security Council aide moved to Energy Department role Ted Cruz takes aim at Alabama vasectomy bill: 'Yikes' MORE (R-Texas).

D’Souza’s clemency marks the fifth full pardon issued by Trump during his 17 months in office, with most of them going to well-known people.

Trump has shown virtually no interest in going through the Justice Department’s formal process for pardons, prompting criticism he is using the power to protect political allies.

Former Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former Bush administration official I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby are among those who have received a pardon from Trump. 

Like Arpaio and Trump, D’Souza promoted the unfounded conspiracy theory that Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaFive takeaways from new fundraising reports for 2020 Democrats Obama sends birthday wishes to John Lewis: 'Thanks for making good trouble' The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren up, Bloomberg down after brutal debate MORE was ineligible to serve as president because he was born outside the U.S. Obama was born in Hawaii, making him natural-born U.S. citizen. 

The author and filmmaker’s work is characterized by polemic attacks on Obama, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonComey responds to Trump with Mariah Carey gif: 'Why are you so obsessed with me?' Trump dismisses reports of Russian meddling, labels them Democratic 'misinformation campaign' The new American center MORE and other liberal leaders. His most recent book is titled “The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left.”

Trump most recently offered a posthumous pardon to the boxer Jack Johnson after a years-long advocacy campaign by pro athletes, civil rights leaders and members of Congress. Johnson was convicted of transporting a woman across state lines "for immoral purposes" under the Mann Act, a prosecution that many considered racially motivated.

Trump’s decision to pardon D'Souza comes one day after he met with reality TV star Kim Kardashian West about prison reform.

Kardashian has been advocating for a pardon for Alice Marie Johnson, a 65-year-old woman who is serving a life sentence in prison for a nonviolent drug offense. So far, Johnson has spent more than 20 years in federal prison. 

The president has not said whether he will act in Johnson’s case.  

Updated at 12:43 a.m.