Conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza said Friday that when President Trump called him this week to relay that he was pardoning him, Trump told him that he was “a great voice for freedom” and wanted him to “be a bigger voice than ever.”
D’Souza, an author, filmmaker and provocateur who became a cult figure on the right in part because of his conspiratorial polemics about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, pleaded guilty in 2014 to illegally using straw donors to contribute to a New York Republican candidate for a U.S. Senate seat.
D’Souza’s comments, during a television interview, came a day after Trump issued a full pardon for his actions, saying D’Souza was treated unfairly and should have received only “a quick, minor fine.”
D’Souza was sentenced to five years of probation, including eight months living under supervision in a “community confinement center” in San Diego, and a $30,000 fine.
During an appearance Friday on “Fox & Friends” on Fox News, D’Souza said the phone call from Trump on Wednesday was unexpected.
“The president said, ‘Dinesh, you’ve been a great voice for freedom,’ and he said that, ‘I got to tell you man-to-man, you’ve been screwed,” D’Souza told Fox.
He said Trump told him that he had been looking at his case and said he “knew from the beginning that it was fishy.”
“He said upon reviewing it, he felt a great injustice had been done and that using his power, he was going to rectify it, sort of clear the slate, and he said he just wanted me to be out there, to be a bigger voice than ever, defending the principles that I believe in,” D’Souza said.
Prosecutors said D’Souza had other individuals donate money to Republican Wendy Long, a Republican who was challenging Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in 2012, under an agreement that he would reimburse them for the donations.
D’Souza said his prosecution was politically motivated, in part because he had made a film highly critical of President Obama.
He told Fox he considered the case “a vindictive political hit.”