​​Vol. XVII, No. 199, July 2018​​

Dinesh D’Souza, Once Ousted from Job for
Adultery, Now Pardoned by President Trump

By M. P. Prabhakaran












 
 
 


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Dinesh D'Souza leaving Federal Court in New York City after sentencing,
on September 23, 2014, in his campaign fraud case.
(Picture reproduced courtesy Anthony Lanzilote/The New York Times)



First, a clarification: The pardon President Trump issued on May 31, 2018, has nothing to do with the adultery Dinesh D’Souza committed a few years ago. The adultery did cost this Indian-American his job as president of an evangelical college in New York. But for Donald Trump, himself an adulterer and philanderer, it’s no big deal. More about the adultery, in a little bit.
 
Trump and D’Souza have one thing in common. They both hate former President Barack Obama. Each has been engaged in his own character assassination campaign against Obama for nearly a decade now. Since Obama left office and Trump entered it, the latter added one more goal to his campaign: to erase all traces of the achievements Obama had during his eight years in office. The pardon he issued last month, absolving D’Souza of the crime he committed during the 2012 election, is his way of rewarding him for the stupendous work he did in spreading anti-Obama venom. It is also aimed at enabling him to continue that work. More about the pardon, in a little bit.
 
Trump’s destroy-Obama campaign started even before Obama became president, soon after he became the Democratic Party nominee for president. It started with a lie. The lie was that Obama was born in Kenya and hence ineligible even to enter the presidential race, let alone be president. The only basis for Trump’s claim was that Obama, though born to an American mother, had a Kenyan father. And since Trump became president, he has been making every effort to demolish the legacy the Obama presidency has left behind.

D’Souza Questions Obama’s Patriotism

Though the lie was exposed, with documents proving that Obama was a native-born American, the fact that Obama was born to a Kenyan father gave both Trump and D’Souza ample material to build a conspiracy theory questioning Obama’s patriotism. Building conspiracy theories based on figments of their imagination has been a favorite pastime of both Trump and D’Souza. To cite a few such theories D’Souza bandied about: Obama is against business because of the anti-colonialist trait in his character, which he inherited from his Kenyan father; the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened because of “America’s moral decadence” caused by liberals; the scandalous incident at the Abu Ghraib, Iraq, prison was the fault of liberals, because the soldiers who did those despicable things, Lynddie England and Charles Graner, were divorced, sex-crazed partiers, acting out “the fantasies of blue [Democratic] America"; the liberal billionaire-financier-philanthropist George Soros, who was a Jewish child in Nazi-occupied Hungary, was really a Nazi collaborator; etc., etc.
 
When D’Souza, a native of India who became a naturalized citizen of America, questioned the patriotism of a native-born American, he may have evoked chuckles in many quarters. But he knew full well that playing the patriotism card is the surest way of getting accepted in the ultra-right wing of the Republican Party.
 
According to D’Souza, all economic policies Obama adopted, and actions he took in pursuance thereof, could be traced to his anticolonialist mind-set. He dwelt at length on this theorizing in a cover story he wrote for Forbes magazine. The story, titled “Obama’s Problem With Business,” was published in the September 27, 2010, issue of the magazine. It portrays anticolonialism as evil and elaborates on his outlandish idea that President Obama was executing in this country the anticolonial agenda of his Kenyan father. A person born and brought up in a former colony portraying anticolonialism as evil did come as a shock to many. I was one of them. I wrote a response to D’Souza’s Forbes article and published it in this space, on September 21, 2010, under the title “An Indian of Quisling Ancestry Ridicules Obama’s Anticolonialist Ancestry.” The most important point I made in my response was:
 
“If anticolonialism is evil, Mahatma Gandhi of India, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya and even the founding fathers of America were guilty of having espoused an evil ideology.”
 
D’Souza’s article in Forbes ended thus: “Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation’s agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son makes it happen, but he candidly admits he is only living out his father’s dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is governed by a ghost.”
 
D'Souza dwelt at length on the same idea in his book, The Roots of Obama’s Rage, published in 2010, and a documentary based on the book, released in 2012. Though many in the country found the idea stupid and sickening, the book sold very well. The documentary, titled 2016: Obama’s America and produced with financial help from another Obama-hating conservative, billionaire Joe Ricketts, “was one of the highest-grossing political documentaries of all time, behind only Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11,” according to The New York Times. D'Souza was happy to note that spreading hatred for Obama pays. 
 
The ideas he promoted through his numerous articles, nearly a dozen books, two documentaries (the second documentary, Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, was released on July 22, 2016) and appearances on radio and television talk shows won him a large following among conservatives in the Republican Party. With the publication, in 2007, of the book What’s So Great About Christianity, he also became the darling of the evangelical wing of the party, making him a much-sought-after speaker at mega-churches in the country. His career also rose meteorically. His new-found status among evangelicals won him the top-most position at The King’s College, an evangelical institution in New York. The presidentship of the college came with a seven-figure salary.

Extramarital Affair

But the fame and prestige, which the presidentship of an evangelical college brought him, lasted only two years, from August 2010 to October 2012. On September 28, 2012, the man who masqueraded as a holier-than-thou-Christian was spotted in an un-Christian-like act. He was seen sharing a room with a woman at a hotel in South Carolina. His explanation that he had already been divorced from Dixie Brubaker, his wife since 1992, and that Denise Odie Joseph II, the woman he was with, was his fiancee turned out to be only half-true. Nobody believed, either, his plea that "nothing happened" in the hotel room between him and Denise.  

Reporter Warren Cole Smith from World Magazine broke the story on the illicit affair in the October 16, 2012, issue of the magazine. World  is a biweekly Christian news magazine published by God's World Publications. Smith later discovered that D’Souza filed for divorce from Dixie only on the day his story appeared in World. In the wake of the controversy the scandal stirred, The Smith’s College forced D’Souza to resign.

I had written an article on the controversy and D’Souza’s fall from grace and published in this space, under the title “Obama-Baiting Indian-American Eased Out of His Job for Adultery.” The article, among other things, said:

“A man losing his job for an extramarital affair may come as a surprise to many, especially in this day and age. But we are not talking about just any man and just any job. The adulterer we are talking about is one who steadily advanced his career by extolling Christian values and kissing up to the extreme right wing of the Republican Party. And the job he has been eased out of is the presidentship of an evangelical college whose mission statement emphasizes a “commitment to the truths of Christianity and a biblical worldview.”

That the immoral act took place at the conclusion of an event at which 2,000-odd people had gathered “to hear high-profile Christians speak on defending the faith and applying a Christian worldview to their lives,” as the Smith story, puts it, made it all the more appalling. Dinesh D’Souza was the keynote speaker at the event and Smith’s report exposed his hypocrisy.

Illegal Campaign Contribution

It seems 2012 was the cruelest year thus far in D’Souza’s career. While the immoral act mentioned above cost him his job and the the prestigious position he enjoyed among evangelicals, an illegal act he committed the same year made him a liability for the Republican Party. Until President Trump came to his rescue, that is. Let's briefly go through what happened:
 
In the 2012 mid-term election in the country, the Republican candidate for Senate from New York was Wendy Long, a friend of D’Souza’s since his Dartmouth College days. Ms. Long had requested him to help her raise campaign funds by appealing to wealthy Indian doctors in Westchester. D’Souza knew that he was the last person whom even Republicans among Indians would lift a finger to help. So, he found another way of helping his friend. He persuaded the woman he was having an affair with (the same Denise Odie Joseph II, married and 22 years his junior, who shared a hotel room with him in South Carolina) and her husband; and another couple (a young employee working under him and her husband) to contribute to Long’s campaign fund. The total contribution came to $20,000. Strictly speaking, there was nothing illegal about it, the legally permitted limit of individual contribution being $5,000. But the $20,000 which the four individuals contributed was reimbursed by D’Souza, as per his prior arrangement with them. In other words, he used the four people as straw donors, a practice prohibited under campaign finance laws.
 
Sometime in 2013, when the F.B.I., while going through the campaign records of Wendy Long, spotted large sums appearing in the middle of small contributions. It raised a red flag. On further investigation, the Justice Department was able to trace the source of the $20,000 donation to D’Souza. He was charged with breaking campaign finance laws, “willfully and knowingly,”  and causing a false statement to be made to the Federal Election Commission. The fact that his friend lost the election to her opponent, the incumbent Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, did not make his illegal contribution less of a crime. 
 
For four months D’Souza refused to plead guilty, arguing that he was a victim of “selective prosecution.” He was being targeted, he said, because he was a “sharp critic of the Obama presidency who has incurred the president’s wrath.”
 
Richard M. Berman, the judge who presided over the case, dismissed D’Souza’s arguments as “all hat and no cattle.” On September 23, 2014, he issued his verdict. D’Souza was fined $30,000 and sentenced to five years’ probation, including eight months in a supervised “community confinement center.”

He was languishing in infamy, at least in the eyes of many, when he received the heart-warming news about his being pardoned by the president. The first thing D’Souza did, after he heard of the pardon, was to send out tweets thanking Trump and railing at President Barack Obama. His tweet to Trump said: “Obama & his stooges tried to extinguish my American dream & destroy my faith in America. Thank you @realDonaldTrump for fully restoring both.”
 
The next tweet, sent out on the same day, was directed at Preet Bharara, the Indian-American who prosecuted his case. It read: “KARMA IS A BITCH DEPT: @PreetBharara wanted to destroy a fellow Indian American to advance his career. Then he got fired & I got pardoned.”
 
Preet Bharara was the U.S. attorney in New York and the investigation of D'Souza's wrong-doing was undertaken by his office. Both D'Souza and Donald Trump treated him as their nemesis. As was expected, he became one of the early casualties of Trump's erase-the-Obama-legacy campaign. No reason was given for his abrupt dismissal. Presidents don’t have to give any reason for dismissing anyone in the executive branch. It was rumored, though, that Bharara’s involvement in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with the Russian meddling in the 2016 election and his being a protégé of Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democrat from New York who is also the minority leader in the U.S. Senate, had something to do with it. Since his dismissal, Bharara has been a vehement critic of Trump.
 
Bharara defended his prosecution of D’Souza via a tweet of his own, which said: “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 Real Reason Behind the Pardon

Yes, the president has the right to pardon anyone. But impartial observers can never stop wondering what made him pick D’Souza for this preferential treatment, ignoring all established procedures for granting pardons and disregarding more than 10,000 pending cases that are deserving of presidential pardon. The reason could be, many of them say, that the character assassination campaign against Barack Obama, which D’Souza has been conducting, resonates well with the one Trump has been engaged in. He doesn’t care that his action could be criticized as a clear abuse of president’s pardoning power.
 
The New York Times has come up with another explanation: “Maybe the president is sending a signal of loyalty and reassurance to friends and family members who may soon find themselves facing similar criminal charges in connection with the special counsel’s Russia inquiry" ("Dinesh D’Souza? Really?" – editorial, nytimes.com, May 31, 2018). It is relevant to note here that one of the crimes that Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen is now being investigated for is the same as the one D’Souza was convicted of.
 
Let me put in my two cents worth: Donald Trump issued the pardon because he wants Dinesh D’Souza out there, continuing his favorite job of spewing anti-Obama venom.
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(Published on June 14, 2018)

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