(CNN) — President Donald Trump announced unexpectedly Thursday that he is granting a full pardon to Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative author and filmmaker who pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance laws in 2014. 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.
“Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!” Trump tweeted.
The 57-year-old was sentenced to five years of probation, including eight months living under supervision in a halfway house and a $30,000 fine.
D’Souza is a contentious figure who once accused then-President Barack Obama of adopting “the cause of anti-colonialism” from his Kenyan father in a 2010 Forbes magazine cover story when Obama was in office. In the piece, he 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.” He also once argued that Adolf Hitler was not “anti-gay.”
A Justice Department spokesperson confirmed Thursday that Trump’s pardon of D’Souza did not go through the department’s Office of Pardon Attorney.
In the past, the Office of the Pardon Attorney has assisted the White House on clemency petitions — though it is not constitutionally required.
Though past presidents have waited until the end of their term for controversial pardons, Trump has granted clemency to four people during his first 16 months in office. His pardons include former Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in an investigation into leaking the identity of a CIA officer, and former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt in a case related to his hard-line tactics with undocumented immigrants.
The President did not use the Office of the Pardon Attorney for the pardons for Arpaio or Libby.
Trump was visibly irked last month when a reporter asked if he would consider a pardon for Michael Cohen, his longtime attorney who is now under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations.
“Stupid question,” Trump responded.