Steve Bannon, a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump who briefly served as his chief political strategist in the White House, has been indicted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for money laundering, fraud and conspiracy.
The charges stem from Bannon’s fundraising efforts for a project called “We Build the Wall,” a campaign to raise money to build a structure on the U.S.’s southern border that began in 2018. Prosecutors allege that Bannon siphoned off millions of dollars of donations for his own personal gain.
Ultimately, the campaign’s organizers succeeded in constructing only three miles of a wall with the $25 million raised, and the structure was already in need of dire repairs shortly after it was put up. Other organizers of the campaign have pleaded guilty to skimming funds for “We Build the Wall,” even after they promised donors that every dollar raised would be spent on the project.
Bannon was also indicted on similar charges related to the project at the federal level, but Trump pardoned him on his last day in office.
“Bannon is charged with two counts of money laundering, three counts of conspiracy, and one count of scheming to defraud,” Reuters news reporter Phil Stewart said on Thursday.
The charges Bannon presently faces are at the state level. Even if Trump is elected president for a second time, he will not be able to constitutionally pardon Bannon again because the charges come from New York state, not the federal government.
Bannon arrived at the District Attorney’s office in New York City around 9 am on Thursday, purporting in comments to reporters that he was being charged for political reasons.
“This is all about 60 days until the day!” he said, alluding to the 2022 midterm elections.
Bannon also spouted off conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election while walking into the District Attorney’s office, wrongly claiming that Trump was the true winner of that race and that Joe Biden’s presidency was “illegitimate.”
Bannon this morning: “Trump won. Biden’s illegitimate.” pic.twitter.com/BoNy0zEqwU
— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) September 8, 2022
The case will be jointly prosecuted by the offices of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Braggs and New York Attorney General Letitia James. In a statement regarding the charges, James suggested that the evidence will clearly demonstrate that Bannon is guilty.
“Mr. Bannon took advantage of his donors’ political views to secure millions of dollars which he then misappropriated,” James said on Thursday. “Mr. Bannon lied to his donors to enrich himself and his friends.”
Earlier this week, a number of media outlets reported that Bannon was planning to voluntarily turn himself in but plead “not guilty” to the charges. In response, Bannon issued an incendiary statement regarding his then-pending charges, suggesting he may resort to violence if he is found guilty.
“They are coming after all of us, not only President Trump and myself,” he said. “I am never going to stop fighting. In fact, I have not yet begun to fight. They will have to kill me first.”
Many on social media reacted to Bannon’s claims that the charges were political.
“I keep waiting for the first MAGA person to realize that Steve Bannon is being prosecuted for stealing THEIR money from THEM,” attorney and former Republican Ron Filipkowski said on Twitter Thursday. “But the con man and deplorable carnival barker is now telling the rubes that this is a prosecution of them. The victims love their abuser and want more.”
“Despite his bravado, I can assure you that Bannon was shaking in his boots when he surrendered this morning,” tweeted Richard Signorelli, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. “He is facing serious time in an upstate NY prison upon conviction. We can expect that 2 of his former fed co-defendants to cooperate against him. He will be convicted.”
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