Before a federal judge spared Dinesh D’Souza prison time Tuesday for violating campaign finance laws, the conservative author and documentarian was preparing for the worst.
“I even went to the extent of hiring a criminologist who was giving me detailed information about various federal prison camps,” D’Souza told The Daily Caller Wednesday, “and how much money I could spend in buying toothpaste and what the mattresses were like and do I have to worry about gangs?”
Now, says D’Souza, he is not only “relieved” but “even a little exhilarated about what happened” in court on Tuesday at his sentencing.
Back in May, D’Souza pleaded guilty to reimbursing associates of $20,000 they donated to his college friend’s 2012 long-shot Senate campaign, in violation of campaign finance laws. Prosecutors asked the judge to send D’Souza to prison for 1o-to-16 months for the crime. Instead, the judge sentenced D’Souza to five years’ probation and eight months in a “community confinement center.”
Many supporters of D’Souza believe that he was targeted for prosecution because he has been one of the most prominent critics of President Barack Obama. But does D’Souza himself believe the order to pursue him came from the White House?
“People tell me different things,” said D’Souza. “I mean, I’ve talked to Judge Andrew Napolitano about it and I’ve talked to Harvard civil libertarian Alan Dershowitz. These are people a little closer to the process than I am. And the general word I get from people like that is it is unlikely that the government of New York would have proceeded without at least a tacit OK if not an outright signal from the Holder Justice Department.”
“But I don’t as a matter of fact know how this is being driven,” he added. “All I know is that you have a U.S. government, and it is the federal government because it is the federal court system, and they are pushing very aggressively with uncharacteristic ruthlessness and zeal to ensure that I get not just a prison term but a substantial prison term, and they are willing to do all kinds of tactics, including bending the legal case law in order to try to convince the judge to do that.”
Quoting his attorney, D’Souza said, “There is not one person in the United States sitting in prison today for doing what Dinesh D’Souza did.”
“I agree that I have had my suspicions that I have been singled out,” D’Souza admitted.
D’Souza said his documentary “2016: Obama’s America” proved the president “is actually a petty, vindictive man” and that he knows the president “intensely dislikes” him because of an unsigned personal attack the president “either wrote or approved of” that appeared on the president’s 2012 campaign site.
“You have to factor that in to what’s happening,” argued D’Souza.
So while D’Souza said he can’t say for sure the order to target him came from the White House, he does “certainly” believe the president “is capable of it.”
Asked whether now the legal process has run its course he will try to prove the order to prosecute him was political, D’Souza said he is “intensely interested” in doing so, but he doesn’t know “a way to do it.”
“The case is essentially a closed book,” he said.
Instead, D’Souza said he plans on working on a new book and a new documentary to come out in 2016, though he is not sure yet what it will be about. He also said he will “start paying more attention” to the issue of justice in his work.
“Freedom has been a defining issue for me but this whole experience, at times traumatic, has alerted to me to the centrality of justice as a political issue that is no less important than freedom,” he explained.
Given his trials, does D’Souza now feel any calling to run for office? He said don’t count on it, but never say never.
“That’s actually very interesting and amusing because obviously, as someone who pled guilty to a felony, I can’t vote,” he said. “But I don’t think I’m actually barred from running for office. So, you know, it’s never been something that interested me mainly because I think I am more effective doing what I am doing now. So it is very unlikely that I will, but I’m not going to say I never will.”