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Steve Bannon charged with fraud in border wall campaign

Here’s what will happen next

From CNN’s Aditi Sangal

Following his arrest this morning, Steve Bannon will be presented in court later today, CNN’s Kara Scannell reports.

The hearings will be done virtually.

The case will be processed by the FBI. Bannon’s fingerprints will be taken. Then he will be presented in court in New York. The initial hearing will deal with the terms of his release.

“We don’t know yet if there’s any agreement about bail,” Scannell reports. “Because it’s not a violent crime, the US Attorney’s office generally doesn’t seek to detain someone, especially during the Covid crisis.”

The initial hearing is usually brief and there will be an arraignment where Bannon will enter a plea in the near future.

We Build the Wall founder allegedly used money to fund his lavish lifestyle, SDNY says

Retired U.S. Air Force Sr. Airman Brian Kolfage speaks with the media during a groundbreaking ceremony in Sandestin, Florida, on January 14, 2016.
Retired U.S. Air Force Sr. Airman Brian Kolfage speaks with the media during a groundbreaking ceremony in Sandestin, Florida, on January 14, 2016. Devon Ravine/Northwest Florida Daily News/AP

Former Trump campaign adviser Steve Bannon and We Build the Wall founder Brian Kolfage — along with two others — have been charged with fraud by federal prosecutors in New York.

A triple amputee Air Force veteran and motivational speaker, Kolfage was the leader of the online, crowd-funded campaign to build a border wall. Here’s what acting US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss said: 

“As alleged, the defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction. 
While repeatedly assuring donors that Brian Kolfage, the founder and public face of We Build the Wall, would not be paid a cent, the defendants secretly schemed to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage, which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle. 
We thank the USPIS for their partnership in investigating this case, and we remain dedicated to rooting out and prosecuting fraud wherever we find it.”

What the charges against Steve Bannon mean, according to CNN’s legal analyst

From CNN’s Aditi Sangal

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon arrives to testify at the trial of Roger Stone at a federal court in Washington, DC, on November 8, 2019.
Former White House strategist Steve Bannon arrives to testify at the trial of Roger Stone at a federal court in Washington, DC, on November 8, 2019. Al Drago/AP

Federal prosecutors have charged Steve Bannon and three others with defrauding donors in a border wall fundraising campaign. Bannon, Trump’s former campaign adviser, has been arrested. Elie Honig, CNN’s legal analyst, said this is “essentially, a massive embezzlement that’s being alleged here and a fraud.”

The alleged fraud is in the way that the defendants, including Steve Bannon, marketed this “build the wall” operation, Honig explained.

“They essentially marketed it as an operation where, if you donated, this money is going to be used to build the border wall,” he said. “But instead — this is the embezzlement part — Bannon and the other defendants essentially pocketed that money. They used it to fund their own lavish lifestyle.”

“In a way, it’s really a straight-forward fraud and embezzlement case and the evidence looks quite strong to me,” he added. 

Given the potential political nature of the case, the charges would have to be at least notified to typically to the deputy attorney general, according to Honig, who added that the deputy would have certainly notified Attorney General Bill Barr.

“I think the most reasonable way to look at this is that this was approved,” he said. “The SDNY is famously independent from politics.”

However, it is still under the supervision of the attorney general and in a case like this with potential political implications, it has to go to the main justice and the attorney general, he explained.

Read the full indictment in the Bannon border wall fraud case

From CNN’s Karl de Vries

Steve Bannon, a former top ally of President Trump, has been arrested along with three others in connection with an alleged scheme to defraud donors of hundreds of thousands of dollars in a border wall fundraising campaign.

Read the full indictment here.

Bannon will appear in court today

Steve Bannon, former advisor to President Trump, arrives at a House Intelligence Committee closed door meeting, on January 16, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Steve Bannon, former advisor to President Trump, arrives at a House Intelligence Committee closed door meeting, on January 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Steve Bannon, a former top ally of President Trump, was arrested this morning, according to a spokesperson for the US attorney’s office.

He is expected to make his initial court appearance in New York later today, according to the US attorney’s office.

Bannon’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

What you need to know about Steve Bannon

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon pauses prior to an interview in Paris on May 27, 2019.
Former White House strategist Steve Bannon pauses prior to an interview in Paris on May 27, 2019. Thibault Camus/AP

Former Trump counselor Steve Bannon was charged alongside three others with defrauding donors in a border wall fundraising campaign. He was arrested this morning.

Here’s what we know about the former White House official:

  • Start with the Trump campaign: Bannon joined Trump’s campaign in 2016, moving from the sidelines as one of Trump’s top cheerleaders to a position atop his campaign apparatus. He had previously served as executive chairman of Breitbart, was a Navy officer, and a Goldman Sachs investment banker years before taking over Breitbart.
  • Inside the White House: After the election, Trump appointed Bannon as his chief strategist. Bannon became White House’s most controversial staffers, the man generally perceived as the driving force behind Trump’s “nationalist” ideology.
  • His ousting: Bannon was fired in 2017, just seven months after Trump took office.
  • About “Fire and Fury”: In his 2018 book, author Michael Wolff quoted Bannon as saying the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer purportedly offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton was “treasonous.” The ousted Bannon said expressed regret for not responding sooner to comments. (You can read his full statement on the issue here.)

Defendants allegedly schemed to create sham invoices and accounts, SDNY says

Steve Bannon in 2017
Steve Bannon in 2017 Scott Olson/Getty Images

Federal prosecutors on Thursday charged Steve Bannon and three others with defrauding donors of hundreds of thousands of dollars in a border wall fundraising campaign. In an excerpt from the Southern District of New York, Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett said: 

“The defendants allegedly engaged in fraud when they misrepresented the true use of donated funds. 
As alleged, not only did they lie to donors, they schemed to hide their misappropriation of funds by creating sham invoices and accounts to launder donations and cover up their crimes, showing no regard for the law or the truth.  
This case should serve as a warning to other fraudsters that no one is above the law, not even a disabled war veteran or a millionaire political strategist.”

Bannon has been arrested

Steve Bannon, a former White House senior counselor to President Trump, has been arrested, according to a spokesperson for the US attorney’s office.

Bannon’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Moments ago, Federal prosecutors announced they have charged Bannon and three others with defrauding donors in a border wall fundraising campaign.  

Federal prosecutors accuse Steve Bannon, 3 others with fraud

From CNN’s Kara Scannell

Federal prosecutors on Thursday charged Steve Bannon and three others with defrauding donors of hundreds of thousands of dollars in a border wall fundraising campaign.  

Bannon, Trump’s former campaign adviser, has been arrested, according to a spokesperson for the US attorney’s office. Bannon’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Bannon will be presented in New York later Thursday.

Source: Live updates: Steve Bannon charged with fraud in border wall campaign