Conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza said Friday that President Donald Trump told him the 2014 conviction for which he was pardoned a day earlier was “fishy” and that he had “been screwed.”
Trump announced Thursday that he had pardoned D’Souza, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to using straw donors to make political contributions to Republican Wendy Long’s 2012 New York Senate campaign. D’Souza avoided jail time but paid a fine and served eight months in a San Diego halfway house.
D’Souza said he was not expecting it when Trump called him earlier this week.
“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.’ He goes, ‘I’ve been looking at the case. I knew from the beginning that it was fishy,’” D’Souza told Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” on Friday morning. “But 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 continued.
D’Souza has long claimed that his conviction amounted to a political attack carried out by the Justice Department under President Barack Obama, of whom D’Souza was a vocal critic. He said he had been pressured by prosecutors into pleading guilty under threat of additional charges and claimed there is no evidence of other Americans in similar cases being prosecuted as aggressively as he was.
The filmmaker said that Trump’s pardon had lifted the “cloud” of being a felon from over his head and that he was grateful to the president for “giving me [my] rights back.”