President Donald Trump pardoned Dinesh D’Souza Thursday because the Department of Justice (DOJ) under his predecessor treated the conservative filmmaker “very differently based on his political viewpoint,” attorney Harmeet Dhillon said Thursday on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”
D’Souza, who released an anti-Obama documentary in 2012 called “2016: Obama’s America,” was convicted of using a “straw donor” to make an illegal $20,000 contribution in 2014 for friend Wendy Long’s Senate campaign in New York.
After pleading guilty to one count, D’Souza was sentenced to eight months of confinement in a halfway house and five years probation, and ordered to pay a $30,000 fine.
Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara — whom Trump fired in 2017 after he refused to resign — prosecuted the D’Souza case. D’Souza’s defenders have long claimed that Obama administration officials unfairly took his political positions into account.
Dhillon (shown above, right), founder of the Dhillon Law Group Inc. and the Republican National Committeewoman for California, said D’Souza “was treated very differently based on his political viewpoint.”
“There’s also the additional factor that … the prosecutor in question, Preet Bharara, has been known and was known at the time for going after high-profile Indian-American targets. He’s prominent in the Indian-American community himself,” Dhillon noted.
“It’s important to remember that it’s not the ‘Department of Convict-whoever-you-can-to-help-your-friends.’ It’s the Department of Justice,” Dhillon emphasized. “Prosecutors are supposed to exercise their discretion, and that discretion is exercised every day in not bringing convictions like this.”
Dhillon also noted that D’Souza “had to plead guilty” because “he was being threatened by the prosecutor with an additional five-year sentence for obstruction of justice.”
Fox News host Laura Ingraham said Bharara “went for broke against D’Souza in a case that could have easily been disposed of with a fine and should have been.”
Ingraham lumped D’Souza’s case with other “egregious examples in recent years of prosecutions of prominent figures that seem to have been politically motivated — prosecutions that resulted in huge miscarriages of justice.”
But Democratic strategist Richard Goodstein (shown above, left), a former adviser to President Bill Clinton and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, said D’Souza committed “a knowing violation.”
“That was why it was criminal. When Trump says, ‘Well, it could be dealt with a fine,’ no, actually. You don’t deal with criminal campaign finance violations by just a fine. You actually again — it was knowing and intentional,” Goodstein said. “He pled to the fact he knew exactly what he was doing.”
Noting that D’Souza “shouldn’t have done it,” Ingraham still warned that D’Souza was treated the way he was by the Obama administration because of his documentary and because “he was someone who was highly effective in a world dominated by the Left — namely, filmmaking.”
“I think Donald Trump sees this as an injustice,” Ingraham argued.
Dhillon agreed, saying that “it would absolutely be just” for Trump to pardon people “who have been unjustly witch-hunted for the purposes of their own careers,” noting that Trump is also considering pardoning celebrity businesswoman Martha Stewart.
“I think other Democrats and other Americans would applaud the president for righting those wrongs. And I hope he does that,” Dhillon said.
Although Trump “has unfettered pardon power,” Goodstein urged him not to “use it corruptly.”