Trump Pardons An Election Cheat
Back in 2012, conservative provocateur Dinesh D’Souza wanted to funnel a bunch of money to the Senatorial Campaign of an old friend of his, Wendy Long. Federal campaign finance law caps the individual donation to a Senatorial campaign at $5,000. To circumvent this, D’Souza paid $10,000 to two couples who were then instructed to donate the money to the Long campaign.
For this, D’Souza was charged with two crimes: making illegal campaign contributions and causing false statements to be made to the FEC. These carry maximum sentences of two and five years in prison respectively.
D’Souza pled guilty to the first charge in exchange for the government dropping the second. He was sentenced to a fine, probation, and several months in a “community confinement center,” from which his movements were largely free, but monitored.
But Mr. Trump thinks D’Souza was “treated very unfairly by [the] government,” and tweeted the following earlier today:
Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2018
What does this mean?
It’s hard not to read into this. D’Souza used his money and influence in blatant violation of U.S. law to influence a US election. D’Souza received a light punishment, plead guilty to the charges in question, and spoke openly and freely about his guilt both in and out of the court room. He committed the crimes he was charged with, unambiguously so.
By pardoning him, Trump signals that this behavior is acceptable and in so doing he undermines the very foundations of American democracy. The President has, as this column has noted before, the unlimited power of the pardon, but there remains a distinction between what the President can and should do.
Tell Congress What You Think
Just because the President can pardon whomever he likes, doesn’t mean that Congress has to be quiet about it. You can ask your Representative, Senators, Governor, or all of the above to speak out on this or any other issue by texting RESIST to 50409. Or, if SMS isn’t your style, you can contact your government by talking to Resistbot on Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or Twitter.