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Co-producers of Dinesh D’Souza’s Film ‘2,000 Mules’ Apologize to Georgia Man Falsely Depicted to Have Committed Election Fraud

Co-producers of Dinesh D’Souza’s Film ‘2,000 Mules’ Apologize to Georgia Man Falsely Depicted to Have Committed Election Fraud

  • Written and directed by the Indian American far-right provocateur, the film claims that “mules,” placed ballots in multiple vote drop boxes in some battlegrounds states.

Conservative political commentator and far-right provocateur Dinesh D’Souza’s 2020 film “2,000 Mules” is making headlines once again. The conservative media company Salem Media Group, which co-produced and released the film, has issued an apology to a Georgia man who was falsely depicted as having committed election fraud in the film. Although Mark Andrew’s face is “blurred in the images, the film’s producers used un-blurred versions of the same video to promote the film on a variety of conservative news outlets,” The New York Times reported. 

D’Souza’s film claims “mules,” paid or unpaid political operatives placed ballots in multiple vote drop boxes in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which were used to make voting easier during the COVID-19 pandemic. The film claims to be based on “a database of 10 trillion cell phone pings provided by the election integrity group True the Vote,” as noted by the Times of San Diego. 

In the statement on its website, Salem wrote, “It was never our intent that the publication of the ‘2000 Mules’ film and book would harm Mr. Andrews. We apologize for the hurt the inclusion of Mr. Andrews’ image in the movie, book, and promotional materials have caused Mr. Andrews and his family.”

In May 2020, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation “cleared Andrews of wrongdoing, and found he was legally dropping off ballots for members of his family,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported at the time. 

Andrews then filed a defamation lawsuit against Salem, D’Souza, and True the Vote. In the lawsuit, filed in October 2022, Andrews claimed that the allegations in  the film “led to violent threats against him and his family.” This has led the family, to feel “intimidated to vote,” and has “changed how they vote because of that fear,” the lawsuit said. “They worry that again they will be baselessly accused of election crimes, and that believers in the ‘mules’ theory may recognize and seek reprisal against them, and that they may face physical harm,” the lawsuit adds.

“As a Black man who grew up in the American South before the passage of the Voting Rights Act, Mr. Andrews deeply cherishes the right to vote, has always been proud to cast his ballot, and has worked tirelessly to instill these same values in his family,” the lawsuit says. “Now, because of Defendants’ conspiracy to defame and intimidate Mr. Andrews, he will never again be able to vote without looking over his shoulder.”

Citing a court filing in a related case, NPR reported that Salem settled the lawsuit brought by Andrews for an undisclosed “significant” amount. 

Though the film was widely debunked by law enforcement officials and the media, the film was an immediate MAGA smash hit and developed a widespread following among supporters of the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen. More than a million people watched “2,000 Mules” in just the first two weeks after its release in May 2022, and the film grossed over $10 million. Its unfounded allegations became an article of faith for an untold number of Americans convinced that the election had been stolen. Five months later, Salem released a companion book. However, that version of the book was “abruptly recalled after already reaching store shelves and replaced with a version that omitted multiple significant allegations,” NPR reported at the time. 

Although D’Souza has spent almost four decades in a cycle of provocation and controversy, he’s among the few who have enjoyed a grand comeback under President Trump after he issued a presidential pardon. He pleaded guilty in 2014 to a felony conviction of recruiting straw donors who gave $10,000 each to an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2012, running against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). He routed the donations through his mistress and her husband. His ex-wife would later accuse him of physical abuse.

U.S. District Judge Richard Berman sentenced him to eight months in a “work release center,” five years of probation, a fine of $30,000 and to perform “community service.” He was required to submit to “psychological counseling.”He was prosecuted by the former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara.  However, D’Souza gloated on Twitter after his pardon to Bharara. “Wanted to destroy a fellow Indian-American to advance his career. Then he got fired and I got pardoned.”

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With Trump’s pardoning, D’Souza returned to the conservative mainstream, as a pioneer of the kind of politics President Trump has brought to the national stage. Following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, D’Souza defended the rioters with false claims that they were “political protesters” who had been unarmed, unfairly attacked by police and wrongly labeled as insurrectionists,” as reported by PolitiFact, a fact-checking website.

D’Souza is perhaps best known for his attacks on Barack Obama, first in 2010 with his book “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” and then in 2012 with a documentary based on the book. The book argued that Obama was carrying out the anti-colonial agenda of his Kenyan father.

His film, “2016: Obama’s America,” was one of the highest-grossing political documentaries of all time. He has repeatedly questioned Obama’s place of birth even after Trump dropped the issue in 2017, saying: “I was never a birther but what’s racist about asking where the son of a Kenyan foreign student visitor to America was actually born?”

He has also released a few other documentaries including “Hillary’s America” and “Death of a Nation,” which features white nationalist Richard Spencer and compares Trump to Abraham Lincoln and Democrats to Nazis. Donald Trump Jr. co-hosted the 2018 premiere of “Death of a Nation.”

According to The Week, in 2010, D’Souza penned an infamous Forbes cover story purporting to offer insight into “How Obama Thinks.” He argued that Obama was governing the U.S. according to the agenda of his father, a “philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions.” The piece was broadly panned, with Columbia Journalism Review dubbing it “a fact-twisting, error-laden piece of paranoia” and The American Conservative calling it “painful,” “inexcusably moronic,” and “simply stupid.”

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