Dinesh D’Souza, the hate-mongering felon who made illegal campaign contributions, got a pardon today from Donald Trump.
I think Josh Marshall nails it.
The D’Souza pardon affirms a basic point: the heart of Trumpism is not any policy but performative cruelty, inflicting maximum harm on those outside the tribal fold, and extending the benefits of power and the powers of state for those inside the fold. D’Souza is a loyalist so he gets rewarded with the prerogative power at the President’s discretion. The rationale isn’t legal. It is not in spite of but because of D’Souza’s racism and aggression. It is as simple as that.
PS: Trump told reporters today he’s considering a pardon for Martha Stewart and commuting the sentence of Rod Blagojevich.
Message to Paul Manafort and Co. from Trump: I’ve got your back.
UPDATE: Tough commentary is piling up, such as this from Paul Waldman at The Week.
It is a spectacular abuse of the pardon power and a barely-veiled announcement that Trump will use that power to protect odious conservative criminals and undermine the Mueller investigation.
Trump has now exercised his pardon power on behalf of three big-time conservatives: Scooter Libby, Joe Arpaio, and D’Souza. The defense of racism and police brutality is a big factor here — indeed, not only is Arpaio a bilious racist, he was literally convicted for racist acts (namely, refusing to stop racially profiling Latinos). But probably more important now is the signal sent to all the people facing prosecution as part of the Mueller investigation or other probes into conservative crimes. Trump didn’t even bother to argue that D’Souza wasn’t guilty, just that he was “treated unfairly.”
So if he’ll pardon Libby, Arpaio, and D’Souza, who won’t he pardon?