Renowned Indian-American author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, who was sentenced to five years of probation in 2014 for violating federal campaign laws, has been pardoned by US President Donald Trump. President Trump said D’Souza was treated very unfairly by the US government, Trump said on Twitter. The president, who has never met D’Souza nor spoken to him, last night called him on the phone to inform him about his decision, reports say. Trump said he spoke to D’Souza “for three minutes last night…he almost had a heart attack”. “D’Souza was, in the president’s opinion, a victim of selective prosecution for violations of campaign finance laws,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was quoted as saying by PTI.
Bitter war between two prominent NRIs
Trump’s decision, however, has drawn sharp reactions on Twitter. While some congratulated D’Souza for being granted pardon, others, including top Indian American attorney Preet Bharara, weren’t as sparing, leading to a war of words between the two. The duel began with Bharara tweeting a sceptical remark about the decision. “The president has the right to pardon but the facts are these: D’Souza intentionally broke the law, voluntarily pled guilty, apologised for his conduct & the judge found no unfairness. The career prosecutors and agents did their job. Period,” Bharara said in a tweet.
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
D’Souza hit back at Bharara in a raft of tweets alleging that one Indian American had tried to destroy the career of another Indian American.
“Bharara & his goons bludgeoned me into the plea by threatening to add a second redundant charge carrying a prison term of FIVE YEARS,” D’Souza said in a tweet. Another tweet reads “KARMA IS A BITCH DEPT: @PreetBharara wanted to destroy a fellow Indian American to advance his career. Then he got fired & I got pardoned.”
What was the issue surrounding Dinesh D’Souza
Mumbai-born D’Souza, 57, is the author of several New York Times bestseller books. In 2012, his movie ‘2016: Obama’s America’s’ which was based on his anti-Obama book became the second-highest-grossing political documentary film produced in the US. D’Souza, who comes from a Roman Catholic family from Goa, had launched a campaign against both Obama and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, PTI reports say. He is a big supporter of Trump. In a new video, released this week, D’Souza ripped apart “the false narrative that Democrats are the ‘anti-fascist’ party”. His latest book ‘Big Lie’ is based on this.
In 2014, D’Souza had pleaded guilty in federal court for using a straw donor to make an illegal contribution to a 2012 Senate campaign. He was thereafter sentenced to eight months in a halfway house near his home in San Diego and five years of probation. He is the author of nearly 20 books and producer of four movies, with the latest one being ‘Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party’. “Mr D’Souza accepted responsibility for his actions, and also completed community service by teaching English to citizens and immigrants seeking citizenship. In light of these facts, the president has determined that Mr D’Souza is fully worthy of this pardon,” Sanders said in a statement.
Criticism over Donald Trump’s move
Donald Trump’s move has evoked sharp criticism from New York Times, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood. “Trump’s latest pardon makes crystal clear his willingness to use his pardon power to thwart the cause of justice, rather than advance it. By pardoning Dinesh D’Souza, President Trump is undermining the rule of law by pardoning a political supporter who is an unapologetic convicted felon,” Underwood said in a statement.
The New York Times has carried out a scathing editorial on Trump’s pardon of D’Souza. The editorial titled “Dinesh D’Souza? Really?” stated the president “uses whatever power he has to attack the people he feels have wronged him, and he will do what he feels he must to protect himself. For him, pardons are a means of vengeance.”