Donald Trump’s pardons (past and future) have one thing in common

Deanna Kelley
June 1, 2018

Trump announced on Twitter his decision to pardon pundit and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to USA campaign finance law violations and was an outspoken critic of Democratic former President Barack Obama, saying he had been "treated very unfairly by our government!"

During an appearance Friday on "Fox & Friends" on Fox News, D'Souza said the phone call from Trump on Wednesday was unexpected.

What do those three people have in common?

Trump also spoke of Stewart, who was convicted in 2004 of obstruction of justice for lying about why she sold stock before its value plummeted. "Then he got fired & I got pardoned", D'Souza tweeted at the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of NY.

Blagojevich is serving a 14-year sentence for trying to sell Obama's former Senate seat and for extortion relating to IL funds for a children's hospital and racetrack.

The surprise pardon comes as the the Trump administration pushes criminal justice reform.

Both had connections to Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" TV show: Blagojevich was a contestant in 2010 and Stewart hosted a 2005 spinoff, "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart".

White House spokesman Raj Shah echoed D'Souza's claim of selective prosecution. "The career prosecutors and agents did their job".

The D'Souza pardon was Trump's fifth, and another in a pattern of using that near-absolute presidential power for moves based on political whim or convenience, with little or no legal review.

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"I'm very grateful to President Trump for giving me my [full] rights back", he said.

D'Souza also fits that approach, Wright said.

A frequent complaint repeated Thursday was that Trump bypassed the normal procedures for considering clemency, a process that typically involves investigation by the government's pardon attorney and input from judges and prosecutors who participated in the cases.

"And If you look at what he said he said something to the effect like what do I get ... stupid thing to say".

In 2014, D'Souza was sentenced to five years of probation after he pleaded guilty to violating federal election law by making illegal contributions to a U.S. Senate campaign in the names of others.

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

More recently he made headlines when he criticised survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting in February that left 17 people dead. "Then he got fired & I got pardoned", Mr. D'Souza said.

The tweets have been sharply criticized by some Florida Republicans, including Gov. Rick Scott.

D'Souza is a major Trump supporter and has created a number of right-wing propaganda films that help generate conservative conspiracy theories. Scott, who is running for U.S. Senate, has not yet decided whether he will attend.

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