Experts pan Dinesh D’Souza’s claim of being a victim

They claimed a presidential pardon for him was inappropriate, and it did not matter that another Indian prosecuted him


Ritu Jha


When President Donald Trump pardoned Dinesh D’Souza of campaign finance fraud, the right-wing activist complained that fellow Indian American Preet Bharara, who was then the US attorney for the southern district of New York, had railroaded him for political reasons.

He was sentenced to a $30,000 fine, eight months of supervision in a ‘community confinement center’ in San Diego and five years of probation.

Bharara, on CNN’s ‘State of the Union,’ in an interview June 3 with Dana Bash said, “You are supposed to pardon people because they are worthy of being pardoned, not because you’re trying to please anyone in your political base.” The suggestion was that Trump was trying to cull favor with his constituents, not argue for justice.

D’Souza has argued that Bharara, part of the Justice Department at the time, had gone after him for his criticism of then President Barack Obama. Trump fired Preet Bharara later for unrelated reasons.

A White House statement said that, in the President’s opinion, D’Souza was a victim of selective prosecution for violations of campaign finance laws.

But other Indian American experts have also questioned the ethics of the incident.

Gautam Dutta, managing partner, Business, Energy, and Election Law, PC, and a general counsel for the Asian American Action Fund told indica, “President Trump pardoning him was inappropriate because its simple: D’Souza broke the law, He was sentenced. There was no reason to pardon him”

When it was pointed out that Trump indeed had the power to do so, Dutta said, “Yes, the president has the power but he should use it wisely. In this case, he used it completely unwisely and inappropriately.”

Karthick Ramakrishnan, associate dean of the UC Riverside School of Public Policy, and a professor of public policy and political science, told indica, “[The pardon] has everything to do with politics. [D’Souza] is a conservative favorite after he attacked Obama. Trump has done everything he can do [to help him].” He said D’Souza lacks credibility in the Indian community and that he had not highlighted his heritage much in the past.

‘It’s surprising it is being brought up and has become an issue of one Indian going after another,” Prof. Ramakrishnan said, pointing to comments D’Souza tweeted: “Bharara wanted to destroy a fellow Indian American to advance his career. Then he got fired & I got pardoned].”

Prof. Ramakrishnan said Bharara’s Indian heritage is irrelevant to the case.

“Prosecution is what the US attorney should be doing, including a white-collar crime. If an Indian violates it would be seen as a favoritism, He [Bharara] has gone after multiple cases [involving other Indians, too],” he said.

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