Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Steve Bannon surrenders to authorities, expected to face NY state charges related to border wall fundraising effort

The former Donald Trump aide is likely to plead not guilty Thursday when arraigned later Thursday, his attorney Robert Costello told CNN.

The state charges, which have been returned in an indictment, are based on the same conduct Bannon was charged with by federal prosecutors in 2020 that alleged he and three others had defrauded donors in the border wall effort, which raised more than $25 million.

Presidential pardons do not apply to state investigations, however.

Bannon appeared to blame his situation on political motivations.

“This an irony, on the very day the mayor of this city has a delegation down on the border, they are persecuting people here, that try to stop them at the border” he told reporters outside the DA’s office Thursday.

“This is all about 60 days from the day,” he said later, referencing the November election.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office launched a criminal investigation into Bannon’s “We Build the Wall” crowd-fundraising activities early last year after then-President Trump pardoned Bannon on federal fraud charges relating to the same alleged scheme.
Bannon had been federally charged with diverting more than $1 million to pay an alleged co-conspirator and cover millions of dollars in personal expenses. Prosecutors alleged that the donors, including some in New York, were falsely told that all the money contributed would go toward the construction effort.

In recent months, several people close to Bannon were brought before the state grand jury.

Manhattan prosecutors subpoenaed bank records and quietly worked on the investigation over the past year as they investigated Trump and his real estate business, sources familiar with the matter previously told CNN. But the district attorney’s office deferred a charging decision on Bannon until federal prosecutors concluded their case against his three co-defendants, who were not pardoned.

Steve Bannon's request for a new trial is rejected by federal judge

Bannon issued a statement late Tuesday, in part calling the indictment “phony charges” and “nothing more than a partisan political weaponization of the criminal justice system.”

“I am proud to be a leading voice on protecting our borders and building a wall to keep our country safe from drugs and violent criminals,” he said in the statement, adding: “They are coming after all of us, not only President Trump and myself. I am never going to stop fighting. In fact, I have not yet begun to fight. They will have to kill me first.”

A federal jury in July found Bannon guilty of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, US Capitol attack. He is scheduled to be sentenced in October and faces a minimum sentence of 30 days in jail, according to federal law.

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