May 31, 2018 – President Donald Trump today announced that he would pardon Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative political pundit and filmmaker, who in 2014 confessed to campaign money laundering and was sentenced to five years’ probation and a $30,000 fine. D’Souza devised a scheme to launder $20,000 in illegal contributions to the 2012 U.S. Senate campaign of Republican candidate Wendy Long. D’Souza solicited two “straw donors” each to make another $10,000 contribution to the candidate, which he reimbursed the following day.

“Pardoning someone who breaks anti-corruptions laws is not a subtle message. The president is sending a blazing signal to his surrogates and associates that they will be rewarded if they stay loyal. The precedent is particularly frightening as the important Mueller investigation into obstruction of justice and collusion continues and seems likely to have ongoing indictments and charges of those in the president’s orbit.”

– Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division

“If there was any lingering doubt left that Trump’s pledge to ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington was nothing more than campaign rhetoric, today’s pardon of a confessed campaign money launderer should bring those doubts to a close.

D’Souza confessed in court that he deliberately violated our campaign finance laws and with full knowledge that it was illegal. Allegations that the prosecution of D’Souza was political were dismissed by the judge as, legally speaking, ‘all hat, no cattle.’

By pardoning D’Souza, Trump is sending another clear signal that he’s AOK with flagrant corruption.”

– Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division