Conservative filmmaker, author, and commentator Dinesh D’Souza thanked President Trump Friday for his decision to pardon him over his 2014 conviction on a campaign finance violation, saying that the pardon will give him back his right to vote.
The filmmaker has long believed that he was singled out by the Obama administration in retaliation for his movie 2016: Obama’s America. He said Friday on Fox & Friends that the prosecution against him was a “vindictive political hit,” pointing out that there isn’t a single other case of someone being indicted or incarcerated for the minor violations he committed.
Trump announced the pardon in a tweet Thursday morning, agreeing that D’Souza had been “treated very unfairly by our government”:
Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2018
D’Souza told the hosts that when Trump called to say that he was pardoning him, Trump said a “great injustice had been done,” and that he knew “from the beginning that it was fishy.” According to D’Souza, the president also said: “I gotta tell you, man to man: you’ve been screwed.”
He said Trump also told him that he was “a great voice for freedom” and wanted him to “be a bigger voice than ever.”
D’Souza disputed the contention made Thursday by former New York AG Preet Bharara — who had prosecuted D’Souza — that the prosecution was justified:
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. https://t.co/bA3I8vs4QQ via @politico
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) May 31, 2018
“These guys decided to make an example of me,” D’Souza argued, explaining that he was forced to plead guilty to avoid a second charge that carried a five-year prison sentence.
“This kind of legal bludgeoning tactic is used not only against the guilty, but against the innocent,” D’Souza said. “These guys decided to make an example of me and I think that the reason for this was Obama’s anger over my movie that I made about him.”
D’Souza told the hosts that he knew Obama was upset because he had been “raging about it” on his website BarackObama.com. “So this was a vindictive political hit that was kind of aimed at putting me out of business, essentially destroying my credibility, making it impossible for me to make movies and write books. In that sense, it failed,” D’Souza noted, pointing out that he has continued to make movies and write books. “But it left a cloud over me. I would be a lifelong felon. I would never be able to vote and never have my full rights.”
He said he was very grateful to President Trump for giving him his rights back.
Despite spending eight months in a halfway house in San Diego with “hardened felons,” D’Souza said that he doesn’t regret the experience. “It’s not my normal crowd,” he told the hosts. “It was an eye-opening experience. I came out of it fine.” He added that the experience made him “temperamentally” and “emotionally stronger.”
“I’ve learned a lot,” he noted.
D’Souza said that Congress now has a copy of his FBI file — which he noted the FBI resisted releasing for a long time.
“And now we kind of know why. Because when you look in the file, you see that I’m red-flagged as a ‘prominent conservative critic of the Obama administration.'”
He questioned why that would be in his file other than to signal to the Holder Justice Department that he was a guy they might want to go after.
“This is the kind of way signaling works. The signaling is within the government, targeting me for selective prosecution,” he said.