May 31, 2018

Meet Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative pundit Trump has pardoned

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President Trump has pardoned Dinesh D'Souza, a convicted felon who has been a prominent conservative pundit and activist since the 1980s.

The big picture: D'Souza, who pled guilty in 2014 to violating campaign finance laws, served in the Reagan administration and worked at both the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institution. He became prominent after publishing Illiberal Education in 1991, has written 16 books critiquing the liberal world-view, and gradually transitioned into film projects.

What Trump is pardoning: D'Souza was indicted in 2014 for violating campaign finance laws in Wendy Long's 2012 U.S. Senate race. He received 5 years of probation and 8 months in a supervised “community confinement center.”

Preet Bharara, who was fired by President Trump in 2017, said when announcing the indictment:

"Dinesh D'Souza attempted to illegally contribute over $10,000 to a Senate campaign, wilfully undermining the integrity of the campaign finance process... Like many others before him, of all political stripes, he has had to answer for this crime – here with a felony conviction."

Upon the announcement of Trump's intention to pardon D'Souza, Bharara tweeted:

"The President has the right to pardon but the facts are these: D'Souza intentionally broke the law, voluntarily pled guilty, apologized for his conduct & the judge found no unfairness. The career prosecutors and agents did their job. Period."

D'Souza gained special notoriety on Twitter, including most recently for claiming the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting were grieving in a "politically orchestrated" way.

Among his most notorious tweets:

  • Wondering in 2017 if the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville was "staged."
  • He suggested the mainstream media potentially covered up the Las Vegas gunman was an anti-Trump activist, although this does not appear to be true.
  • He has defended Hitler as "NOT anti-gay," despite sending gay people to death camps.
  • He has shared a meme that labeled former President Barack Obama a "gay Muslim" and Michelle Obama a man.

And from his books:

The trend on pardons: Trump has issued several pardons during his presidency, including for former Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff “Scooter” Libby, former sheriff Joe Arpaio, and more recently, boxing champion Jack Johnson.

Go deeper: How Trump's pardon power works

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The growing coronavirus recession threat

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In just a matter of weeks, top economists and investment bank analysts have gone from expecting the coronavirus outbreak to have minimal impact on the U.S. economy to warning that an outright recession may be on the horizon.

What's happening: The spread of confirmed coronavirus cases in Europe, the Middle East and the U.S., and the speed at which they are being discovered has set the table for the outbreak to have a larger and much costlier impact.

Mass shooting in Milwaukee: What we know

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in 2012. Photo: John Gress/Corbis via Getty Images

Six people died in a shooting at the Molson Coors Brewing Company in Milwaukee on Wednesday, including the gunman, Mayor Tom Barrett told reporters at a Wednesday evening press conference with local police.

Details: All of the victims worked at the brewery complex, as did the shooter who died of "an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound," police confirmed in a statement late Wednesday.

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Coronavirus updates: South Korea case count tops 2,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

33 people in California have tested positive for the coronavirus, and health officials are monitoring 8,400 people who have recently returned from "points of concern," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,850 people and infected over 83,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica, and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

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