Bannon surrenders to N.Y. authorities on 'Build the Wall' money-laundering charges
“NEW YORK, N.Y. — Steve Bannon, who managed Donald Trump's successful 2016 campaign for the presidency and served his administration as a White House adviser, surrendered Thursday morning to New York state authorities on charges that he laundered money by diverting funds donated to the We Build the Wall organization.
The organization, launched in 2018, raised more than $25 million after promising to help build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to curb illegal immigration.
"There cannot be one set of rules for everyday people and another for the wealthy and powerful," New York Attorney General Letitia James said Thursday. "We all must play by the same rules and must obey the law. Mr. Bannon took advantage of his donors' political views to secure millions of dollars which he then misappropriated. Mr. Bannon lied to his donors to enrich himself and his friends."
Bannon was indicted on two counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy.
The charges were brought by James and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
In a statement Tuesday night, Bannon described the state-level prosecution as a part of a wider "weaponization of the criminal justice system" against conservatives.
Bannon claimed the criminal charges are part of an effort to silence him ahead of the midterm election.
"I have not yet begun to fight," Bannon said. "They will have to kill me first."
The indictment closely tracks acase brought against Bannon in 2020 by the U.S. Justice Department. In that case, two of Bannon's co-defendants pleaded guilty, and a third received a mistrial and may be retried.
Bannon pleaded not guilty but was never tried because President Trump pardoned him on his final day in office. The White House said at the time, "Mr. Bannon has been an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen."
The next month, The Washington Post reported that the Manhattan district attorney had begun looking at whether Bannon could be charged under state law.
The then-president's pardon covers only federal crimes, not the state crimes with which Bannon has now been charged.
Bannon's lawyers may argue that the charges should be dismissed under New York's double-jeopardy law.
Paul Manafort, another Trump adviser, successfully argued for the dismissal of state charges against him in 2019. But, unlike Bannon, Manafort had been tried and convicted in federal court before he was charged in New York. Like Bannon, Manafort received a pardon from Trump in the final month of his presidency.
Before joining the Trump campaign in 2016, Bannon rose to prominence as an executive at Breitbart, a right-wing website.
District Attorney Bragg and Attorney General James have experience bringing oversight to Trump and his dealings. They cooperated on an investigation that resulted in criminal tax evasion and conspiracy charges against the Trump Organization and its former CFO, Allen Weisselberg, in 2021. Weisselberg has pleaded guilty.
The Trump Organization is scheduled to be tried starting in October.“
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