Bannon Pleads Not Guilty, Released Without Bond; “All of it is bull****”

  • by:
  • Source: Wayne Dupree
  • 03/04/2023

In a state-level relaunch of a federal case that resulted in a presidential pardon last year, longtime associate of former President Donald Trump Steve Bannon pleaded not guilty on Thursday to defrauding donors who contributed money to erect a wall on the southern border of the United States.

Following his arraignment on accusations of money laundering, conspiracy, and fraud connected to the “We Build the Wall” campaign, Bannon, 68, was freed without bond. He is the second individual who received a pardon from Trump and was then prosecuted with the same alleged behavior by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

“All of it is bullshit. Bannon declared as he walked out of court, “They’ll never be able to stop me.

While Bannon claimed that all donations would go toward building the wall, according to Manhattan prosecutors, he was really involved in sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to third-party organizations and utilized them as payment conduits for two other participants in the plan.

Although the indictment did not specifically name them, the details corresponded to those of Andrew Badolato and Brian Kolfage, who pled guilty to federal charges in April.

After Bannon was pardoned, according to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Manhattan prosecutors determined they had to prosecute him since the alleged plan defrauded hundreds of city residents.

At a press conference, Bragg stated, “The basic reality is: It is a criminal to profit off of donations by creating false pretenses.”

The same alleged behavior gave rise to Bannon’s New York charges, which were dropped before trial when Trump pardoned Bannon on his final day in office. WeBuildTheWall, Inc., the charity organization used by Bannon and his former co-defendants to raise money, was also accused by Manhattan prosecutors. The business Thursday entered a not-guilty plea.

Only federal offenses are eligible for presidential pardons; state offenses are not. Months after Trump had pardoned Ken Kurson in a related federal case, the Manhattan district attorney’s office filed a cyberstalking allegation against him last year. Kurson is a friend of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Similar to Bannon, Kurson was pardoned early in his federal case, before a finding of guilt or innocence, disproving any claim of double jeopardy.

Bannon described it as “ironic” that the mayor of New York City has been protesting the arrival of buses full of migrants from Texas while prosecutors “are persecuting people here, that try to stop them at the border,” as he arrived at the Manhattan district attorney’s office shortly after 9 a.m. on Thursday.

Prior to the midterm elections in November, Bannon said that Bragg was pursuing “false accusations” against him because the Democratic prosecutor knew that he and his radio show were well-liked by Trump’s Republican backers.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Bannon referred to his arrest in August 2020, months before Trump’s loss in the general election, and said that federal prosecutors “did the exact same thing to attempt to knock me out of the race.” “This is nothing more than the criminal justice system being used as a political weapon,”

However, Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, whose agency collaborated with Manhattan prosecutors on the case, claimed that the goal was to hold “strong political interests” accountable.

They believe they are exempt from the law. The worst of them even exploit hard-working Americans in the process. Steve Bannon stands out as the ideal illustration of this glaring inequity, according to Democrat James.

Federal investigators detained Bannon in 2020 after snatching him from a luxurious boat off the coast of Connecticut on suspicion that he had stolen more than $1 million in donations intended for the construction of the border wall. Prosecutors said that more than $25 million total was raised.

Federal prosecutors claimed Bannon and his co-defendants duped thousands of people into believing that 100% of their donations would go toward constructing a wall along the 1,933-mile (3,110-kilometer) U.S.-Mexico border in that case. Border security was a key component of Trump’s presidential campaign.

Instead, according to the prosecutors, Bannon paid hidden salaries to Kolfage, a co-founder of “We Build the Wall,” and used part of the funds to cover his own personal costs.

According to the New York indictment released Thursday, Bannon allegedly promised contributors at a June 2019 fundraising event that “all the money you contribute goes to building the wall.” According to the indictment, Kolfage, who is not accused in the state case, repeatedly vowed: “I won’t accept a dime from these donations, not a penny.”

When Trump pardoned Bannon, who had entered a not guilty plea to the federal charges, the matter was dismissed.

The sentencing of Florida businessman Badolato and U.S. Air Force veteran Kolfage, who lost both legs in an Iraqi mortar explosion, was originally set for this week. However, it has since been moved to December. In June, the jury declared a mistrial in the case of a third defendant because they were unable to agree on a verdict.

In a separate incident that was not covered by Trump’s pardon, Bannon was found guilty in July of violating a congressional subpoena issued by the House committee looking into the Jan. 6 uprising at the U.S. Capitol. He will get a sentencing in October and might receive a maximum of two years in federal prison.

Bannon was the head of the nationalist, outsider Breitbart News before taking the helm as CEO of Trump’s 2016 campaign in the crucial closing months. He was at the vanguard of several of the administration’s most divisive policies, including the travel restriction on numerous nations with a majority of Muslims, but was forced out after less than a year.

Get latest news delivered daily!

We will send you breaking news right to your inbox

© 2024 Wayne Dupree, Privacy Policy