Trump used the power of the presidential pardon to reward one of his prominent fanboys, conservative pundit Dinesh D'Souza. The pardon also sends a message to Trump cronies under legal pressure to shut up.
Trump has decided to give a presidential pardon to fellow Obama hater, liar, and conservative Dinesh D'Souza. D'Souza is a convicted felon who confessed to violating federal campaign law.
Trump wrote, "Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!"
In 2014, D'Souza, a conservative pundit, pleaded guilty to making an illegal campaign donation to Senate campaign. D'Souza engaged in a scheme where he paid back $20,000 to several people who contributed to the campaign of Republican candidate Wendy Long.
The charge was one count of making illegal contributions in the names of others. Federal law limits individual contributions to $5,000 total to a campaign ($2,500 in the primary, and then in the general election). D'Souza was attempting to use his wealth to circumvent the law.
When he entered his plea, D'Souza said, "I knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids."
Instead of going to prison, D'Souza had to serve out a sentence at a halfway house.
In D'Souza, Trump is rewarding a fellow conspiracy theorist and serial liar. The pardon is a de facto reward for a prominent online troll who has regularly shilled for Trump while producing a stream of ridiculous attacks on Democrats and the Democratic Party.
D'Souza once said of Obama "you can take the boy out of the ghetto…," which is the kind of language that Trump can no doubt identify with.
The pardon, Trump's fifth, is another instance of a clear legal violation being undone by Trump's pen without any of the traditional questions of unfair or unjust prosecution seriously being raised. The top Trump officials now under legal threat are being sent a message.
Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe pointed out the context for D'Souza's pardon: "Trump’s Dinesh D’Souza pardon today, on top of his pardons of Scooter Libby and Joe Arpaio, make sense only as an elephant-whistle to Michael Cohen & all who know damning things about Trump: protect me & I’ll have your back. Turn on me & your goose is cooked."
Former head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub said, "Imagine if Nixon had been waiting with a stack of pardons for his Plumbers to return from the Watergate break-in. A president may not be above the law, but he has the power to put his henchmen above the law. That’s what Trump is telling Manafort & others with the D'Souza pardon."
D'Souza for years pushed the crackpot theory that President Barack Obama's policy decisions in the White House were motivated by his family's African heritage and resentment over colonialism.
He repeatedly twisted history and factual information to fit into this absolutely inane idea. The goal was to echo the same kind of attacks that Trump, a birther who insisted Obama was not born in the United States, was making at the time.
D'Souza put those ideas into movie form in the film "2016: Obama's America," released in June of 2012 in an attempt to prevent President Obama's re-election. The film, with a 25 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, was fact checked by the Associated Press. They examined his claims about Obama's motivations and said the film was "a logical stretch at best."
After releasing an anti-Clinton film in 2016 (current Rotten Tomatoes rating: 4 percent), he went on the road and tried to convince reluctant Republican voters to hold their nose and back Trump's presidential campaign.
In early 2017, D'Souza wrote "Big Lie," which purported to expose "the Nazi roots of the American Left." The book was so ridiculous conservative columnist Ross Douthat called out "professional deceiver" D'Souza who used "extraordinary elisions, sweeping calumnies and laughable leaps" in his writing.
Trump White House officials, however, were busy promoting the book and posing for pictures with it.
Not coincidentally, the release of the book came seven months after Trump was sworn in as president after a racist presidential campaign launched with the claim that Mexicans are rapists. Soon after the book came out, Trump was praising Nazis as "very fine people."
D'Souza has more recently followed up his anti-left smears and deceptions by attacking the teenage survivors of the Parkland school shooting.
Through and through, D'Souza is the epitome of a conservative voice in the era of Trump: crude, conspiratorial, dishonest, and lacking a moral compass.
In the D'Souza pardon, Trump is killing two birds with one stone. He is rewarding a prominent fellow conspiracy theorist for his loyal support, while also making it clear to the men under legal threat who may flip on him to special counsel Robert Mueller that he's got their backs.