Conservative media star Dinesh D'Souza says he feels like he dodged a bullet.
Calling himself "exhilarated" one day after avoiding prison, the author, filmmaker and pundit told Newsmax TV
on Wednesday that his campaign finance fraud ordeal ended in relief at a "surreal" hearing in which federal prosecutors demanded jail time.
Vote Now: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama's Job Performance?
D'Souza, who had no previous criminal background, instead received eight months of halfway house probation at his sentencing
in New York on Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Richard A. Berman tacked on mandatory counseling sessions and community service — which D'Souza told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner he'll be "happy to perform."
Story continues below video.
Watch Newsmax TV now on DIRECTV Ch. 349
and DISH Ch. 223
Get Newsmax TV on your cable system – Click Here Now
Before that, however, the judge played a clip
of D'Souza on Newsmax TV's "The Steve Malzberg Show," in which D'Souza criticized his "selective prosecution" by the U.S. government in "a case involving no corruption whatsover."
A persistent critic of President Barack Obama, and director of the provocative documentary, "2016: Obama's America," D'Souza pleaded guilty in May
to using straw donors to funnel $20,000 to the underdog Senate campaign of a former college classmate. He faced up to 16 months in prison.
"There's a line that Winston Churchill used during the Boer War. He said, 'It's always exhilarating to be shot at without results,' " D'Souza told Berliner. "This was a case where the government was trying to put me away for between 10 and 16 months. We went into the courtroom with the Democrat-appointed judge. He looked at it all, he looked them in the eye and he said no."
D'Souza said that Berman's sentencing hearing on Tuesday should serve as "stern warning" to the federal government.
But he described the three-hour session as touch and go.
"The whole thing was quite a surreal experience, and it had many rollercoaster moments and ups and downs," he said.
Berman spent much of his time scolding the defendant as, among other things, a "compulsive talker," the New York Post
"And then at one point he played my entire interview with Steve Malzberg, in which I was discussing the IRS scandal and a whole bunch of other things … and I thought, 'This is really strange because, you know, am I actually going to get sent to prison because of what I said on the Steve Malzberg Show on Newsmax?'
As it turned out, the judge was just analyzing the defendant.
"At one point in the hearing he said, 'Look, you know, you're a really successful guy. You were in the White House. You've written books. You've made movies. What made you do this? What caused you to do something that's reckless and that could be self-destructive?' " D'Souza said.
"He was trying to probe my motives and … trying to figure out what was really going on," he said.
D'Souza has said that his over-the-limit campaign donations, using other people as cover, were a misguided effort to help out a friend and classmate, conservative U.S. Senate candidate Wendy Long of New York.
He has said he knew full well Long had no chance against the popular incumbent Democrat, Kirsten Gillibrand.
But the government still came down hard, according to D'Souza.
"I mean, they had filed a sentencing brief in which they actually misrepresented a whole bunch of cases to try to convince this judge that it's normal to send a guy like me to prison," he said. "My attorney pointed out that there's not one person in the United States who's in prison — let alone for over a year — for doing what I did.
"And at the end the judge agreed that prison was wrong," he said. "I got probation, I got community service — which I'll be happy to perform — and I hope that … the Obama administration will stay off my back."
In a separate interview Wednesday with Joe Concha, guest host of "The Steve Malzberg Show," D'Souza attempted to explain to the judge his reasoning behind the illegal campaign contribution.
"[I pointed] out that as an immigrant I'd left my family, my whole world behind and my Dartmouth pals including Wendy Long were kind of like family to me and so in a sense this wasn't a normal case where I was just giving to a campaign.
"I felt a kind of almost moral obligation to help her when her campaign was in difficulty, financial difficulty, and I did it the wrong way."
Watch video here.
Urgent: Discover your risk for heart disease, take the test now!
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.