Political News

How Ted Cruz helped get Dinesh D'Souza his presidential pardon

Posted June 1, 2018 11:19 a.m. EDT

— Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz played a key role in convincing President Donald Trump to pardon Dinesh D'Souza, a well-known conservative filmmaker and writer, who pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign donations in 2014.

According to D'Souza, it was Cruz who raised the issue with Trump and made D'Souza's pardoning a priority.

D'Souza told CNN in a phone interview Friday that roughly a month ago, he and his wife Debbie met with Ted and Heidi Cruz for dinner at the Cruz's home in Houston. It was at the dinner, that the issue came up and according to D'Souza, Cruz made it clear that he wanted to help D'Souza be pardoned.

"Ted Cruz said he had a strong conviction that I had been treated badly and unfairly and was determined to raise the issue with President Trump about me getting a pardon," D'Souza said.

After Cruz spoke to Trump about the issue, D'Souza said that Cruz called him and told him that the issue had been raised and Trump seemed receptive, but Cruz cautioned D'Souza that the process was not guaranteed and that the was a long review process still ahead.

D'Souza said he "cautiously" took it as good news.

A spokesman for Cruz told CNN that "we did raise it with them and we are happy they made the decision they did," however the spokesman declined to get into any details about the conversations surrounding the pardon.

Trump had told reporters Thursday that no one had asked him to pardon D'Souza

Thursday, Cruz celebrated via tweet.

"Bravo! @realDonaldTrump Dinesh was the subject of a political prosecution, brazenly targeted by the Obama administration bc of his political views. And he's a powerful voice for freedom, systematically dismantling the lies of the Left---which is why they hate him. This is Justice."

According to D'Souza, he and Cruz's relationship dates back to 2012 when D'Souza recalls that Cruz had rented out a movie theater to show his 2012 film about Obama, "2016: Obama's America," to supporters.

The relationship expands beyond the political to the personal.

In 2016, Cruz's father Rafael Cruz, a well-known preacher, married D'Souza and his wife Debbie.

"My wife Debbie is a life-long Texan," D'Souza said. "She is a native of Venezuela and she came to America at the age of 10. She has lived in Texas since then. She was the head of a large Republican club called Spirit of Freedom... in that capacity she knows a lot of the political figures in Texas. She has organized a lot of events that Ted Cruz has participated [in.] She is friends with Ted Cruz and politically well-connected in Texas."

D'Souza told CNN he was "elated and relieved" to be pardoned.

"I think I have come through it strong, and I've tried not to let my troubles deter me from speaking out on public issues," he said. "It is wonderful to have a full restoration of my rights and a full restoration of my American dream."

The conservative author and filmmaker pled guilty to violating federal campaign finance laws in 2014 after he was indicted earlier that year on charges that he illegally used straw donors to contribute to Republican Senate candidate Wendy Long in New York in 2012.

He previously accused Obama of adopting "the cause of anti-colonialism" from his Kenyan father. In a 2010 Forbes magazine cover story he also referred to Obama's father as a "philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions."