An Obama administration critic pardoned by Donald Trump said Friday that the president told him he was being cleared because the campaign finance charges filed against him were politically motivated.
'The president said, "Dinesh, you've been a great voice for freedom. I got to tell you man-to-man: you've been screwed",' Dinesh D'Souza told 'Fox & Friends' on Friday.
'He goes, "I have been looking at the case. I knew from the beginning that it was fishy".'
D'Souza was convicted of using 'straw donors' to send illegally large amounts of campaign cash to a U.S. Senate candidate.
But he said his conviction and sentence – including 8 months of overnight confinement in a halfway house – was unprecedented and an act of retribution by Barack Obama and his Justice Department because he had made and released the documentary '2016: Obama's America.'iPhone transfer software
Dinesh D'Souza said on 'Fox & Friends' Friday morning that when Donald Trump called to tell him he would get a full pardon for his campaign finance conviction, the president said the Obama administration had 'screwed' him
Trump pardoned D'Souza on Thursday, erasing a conviction that send him to 8 months of nighttime confinement in a halfway house
'No American in our country's history has even been indicted, let alone prosecuted, let alone locked up, for doing what I did. There is just not a single case,' he said Friday, claiming that Obama's attorney general Eric Holder wanted to 'make an example out of me.'
'This was a vindictive political hit that was kind of aimed at putting me out of business,' D'Souza claimed.
Trump also told reporters on Thursday that he was thinking about issuing orders of clemency for Martha Stewart, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and 'lots' of other people.
D'Souza said he was surprised when he got a call at his office from the president.
Using friends as middle-men, D'Souza steered $20,000 to a U.S. Senate candidate whom he had known at Dartmouth College – an amount far in excess of the maximum the law allows
The filmmaker believes his 2016 biopic 'Obama's America' upset the White House and led to his 'selective' prosecution
Conservatives rallied around D'Souza, saying he had been singled out in a politically motivated prosecution by President Barack Obama's Justice Department. D'Souza was also sentenced to five years' probation in 2014 after pleading guilty to violating federal election law by making illegal contributions to a U.S. Senate campaign in the names of others.
He said Friday that he accepted a plea deal because the Obama Justice Department threatened to file a second criminal charge for the same offense – one that could have carried a five-year prison term.
The D'Souza case is the latest example of Trump using his presidential pardon power to right a perceived wrong. The move makes it ever clearer that, in the Trump administration, the odds of a pardon are better for those with a celebrity backer, those who have become a cause celebre among conservatives and those with a reality TV connection.
Trump has been particularly drawn to cases where he believes there was a political motivation to the prosecutions – a situation that may remind him of his own predicament at the center of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling, which he insists is nothing but a 'witch hunt.'
Liberal advocacy groups criticized D'Souza's pardon on Thursday, telling the Associated Press that it signaled contempt for the rule of law.
'Donald Trump has sent a message to his friends and cronies that if you break laws to protect him or attack our democracy, he's got your back,' said David Donnelly, president and CEO of Every Voice.
Trump said he was seriously considering commuting the sentence of Blagojevich, the Democratic former governor serving a 14-year prison sentence on numerous