Trump announces pardon of conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza

Trump pardons Dinesh D’Souza, conservative agitator who pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud

On Thursday, the President announced his decision to pardon conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza, who pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law in 2014.

Trump said he is also considering shortening the sentence for Rod Blagojevich, the former IL governor who was impeached, and pardoning Martha Stewart, the home decor maven.

What do those three people have in common?

D'Souza also took the opportunity to take more shots at Preet Bharara, the Obama-era US attorney whose office oversaw the prosecution against him. He was initially sentenced to five-years probation, including eight months of living in a half-way home and a hefty $30,000 fine.

Blagojevich was prosecuted by Pat Fitzgerald, a Comey friend, when he was US attorney in Chicago. Some have argued that Blagojevich's 14-year prison sentence was disproportionate for to his crimes.

The federal prosecutor who oversaw Stewart's case in NY was James Comey, one of Trump's principal antagonists and the man he fired as FBI director a year ago.

Stewart was convicted of multiple felony charges in 2004 and served five months in federal prison on charges related to a 2001 stock sale.

Trump also pardoned Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former vice president Dick Cheney's chief-of-staff who was convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury, and Kristian Saucier, a US Navy sailor convicted of taking photos inside a nuclear submarine without permission. Fitzgerald, in yet another twist, was appointed as special prosecutor by none other than James Comey. An outspoken conservative since his undergraduate days at Dartmouth College in the early 1980s, D'Souza - born in Mumbai to an Indian Catholic family - was a onetime advisor in the Ronald Reagan White House. "The career prosecutors and agents did their job", he said.

Blagojevich was convicted on numerous counts of corruption, including for trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by Obama and for shaking down a children's hospital.

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"Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D'Souza today".

"In light of these facts, the President has determined that Mr. D'Souza is fully worthy of this pardon".

In a book titled The End of Racism: Finding Values in an Age of Technoaffluence, D'Souza said slavery wasn't a racist institution and segregation "represented a compromise on the part of the Southern ruling elite seeking, in part, to protect blacks".

"Eighteen years in jail for being stupid and saying things that every other politician, you know that many other politicians say", Trump said.

The move makes it ever clearer that, in the Trump administration, the odds of a pardon are better for those with a celebrity backer, those who have become a cause celebre among conservatives and those with a reality TV connection.

The reprieve of Arpaio, who was convicted of federal misdemeanor criminal contempt after a judge found he had defied a court order to stop targeting Latinos with sweeps of suspected undocumented immigrants, renewed criticism of the president's handling of racially charged issues.

D'Souza, of San Diego, originally claimed that he was singled out for prosecution because of his views opposing former President Barack Obama.

His tweets about the Parkland students have been sharply criticized by some Florida Republicans, including Gov. Rick Scott.

D'Souza was born in Mumbai and became a naturalized USA citizen in 1991.

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