D'Souza: 'I Was Trying to Help ... I Did It in the Wrong Way'

Friday, 23 May 2014 07:17 PM

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Dinesh D'Souza — the conservative scholar and documentary filmmaker who pleaded guilty to election fraud charges on the eve of his trial — insists he did not deceive diehard supporters who insisted on his innocence.

"From the beginning of this case when the prosecution and I appeared in court, I said that I did exceed the limits of the campaign finance laws,'' D'Souza told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"The case revolved really on … the issue of selective prosecution … Was [I] being selectively or excessively prosecuted for something that normally doesn't get this kind of treatment?

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"This is a case involving no corruption whatsoever. I gave $20,000 to a longtime college friend running for the Senate, and I wasn't trying to get anything out of it … She was flailing. I was trying to help her, and I did it in the wrong way.''

On Tuesday, D'Souza — director of the documentary "2016: Obama's America,'' which was produced by Gerald Molen of "Schindler's List'' fame — pleaded guilty to federal election fraud, and may face prison time.

He admitted to reimbursing two associates $10,000 each for money they gave to the campaign of New York U.S. Senate candidate Wendy Long, a Republican running for the seat once held by Hillary Clinton.

D'Souza attempted to mount a defense of selective prosecution because he has made films critical of President Barack Obama. The Justice Department is headed by Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder.

The 53-year-old activist entered the plea in federal court in Manhattan on the day his trial was to begin, in part, because of a ruling by the court.

"Did I intend to commit a crime? Did I intend to break the law? What really changed in the case is that the judge ruled that the selective prosecution issue could not be … introduced" at the trial D'Souza said.

"And he defined intent in a quite narrow way that made it almost impossible for me to launch a defense based on that … It wasn't that I had one story at the beginning, another story at the end. The issues in this case have been the same from the very beginning.''

Selective prosecution, particularly against conservatives, remains a serious issue in the United States, according to D'Souza, who has a new film, "America,'' opening next month.

"You see that the Obama administration in case after case taking situations that are quite serious," he said, adding that Democrats who get into hot water seem to recover unscathed.

"I mean very recently [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid takes a bunch of money from his campaign and uses it to spend on a relative's wedding. Now that's a little more egregious, that's clearly deliberate, and nothing's happening to him," D'Souza said.

"The Obama campaign has had to pay fines for all kinds of campaign finance abuses. And then going outside of the campaign finance issue, even my partner, Gerry Molen, right after we released the film '2016,' boom, he's approached by the IRS. [And] Look at all the tea party groups that are being called to the mat by the IRS.''

He called the practice of the government prosecuting its enemies and excusing its friends  un-American.

"That's, in a way, an assault on the shared principles that liberals and conservatives agree upon. So that's really the issue. I never claimed I'm above the law or that I don't deserve to be held accountable for what I did," D'Souza said.

"I'm merely saying that let's look at the overall picture and see whether this administration has in fact kept Lady Justice blindfolded, or if Lady Justice under Obama is peering through the blindfold and making selective decisions."

D'Souza does not know what his sentence will be, although he could be hit with up to five years behind bars.

"It does carry a stunning maximum penalty of five years … It is up to the judge to decide what that penalty will be, and he will do that until the end of September," he said.

D'Souza said his defense team hoped to have obtained government documents relating to what went into the thinking behind his prosecution, but that information was excluded from the trial.

"So we'll never know who decided to prosecute me and when, all that information is the possession of the government, but we don't have it, and we'll never get it, so all I can do is talk about the possibility of selective prosecution,'' he said.

"And all I can do is look at the world in general and look at how the Obama administration deals with its friends and its critics and see whether they're applying an even-handed standard or not.''

D'Souza fears the Democratic White House in prosecuting him and other conservatives, is setting a bad example on Capitol Hill — one that could make nonpartisan politics impossible.

"In other words, if a Democratic administration systematically uses the government to prosecute its critics, you can be pretty sure that a Republican administration will get the same idea if they come in next,'' he said.

"The kind of tactics that anybody uses when they're in power can come back to haunt you when you're not in power.

"We're crossing a road that not only is a misuse of the judicial system but actually makes a certain kind of bond of friendship between the two parties almost impossible.''

D'Souza said he had planned to interview Obama's half-brother Mark Obama for his new movie, which imagines that the United States lost the Revolutionary War and therefore never existed.

"We contacted him, he was happy to be interviewed in the film, and it was after the indictment that he freaked out,'' D'Souza said.

"I don't know really what went through his mind, but he backed out of that interview.''

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