Steve Bannon Surrenders in New York on Border Wall Fraud Charges

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Top strategist and strong ally to former president Donald Trump Steve Bannon surrendered himself to New York authorities today to face state fraud charges surrounding his role in a fundraising effort to privately underwrite the construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

When Trump pardoned the strategist, it was only applicable to federal crimes, not state crimes.

The move by the Manhattan district attorney’s office was quietly communicated to Bannon over the past few days. The indictment is still under seal.

Bannon is expected to face fraud charges alleging that he siphoned off more than $1 million for personal expenses from the ‘We Build the Wall’ fundraising effort. It had promised that all proceeds would directly fund the completion of a border wall between the United States and Mexico.

The New York state charges are expected to mirror a previous federal indictment that also charged Bannon and three others for defrauding donors to the online crowdfunding scheme that raised a whopping $25 million plus. In the federal indictment, Bannon was charged alongside disabled veteran Brian Kolfage, Andrew Bodolato and Timothy Shea. Kolfage and Bodolato pleaded guilty to the August 2020 federal case, and Kolfage admitted to the judge that he had conspired to illegally receive money from donations made to the wall project.

Trump gave a presidential pardon to Bannon in the final days of his White House administration. It expunged the federal charges.

But pardons do not apply to state prosecutions, and these New York state charges mark significant legal peril for the architect of Trump’s 2016 election win.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office started to examine whether to pursue a case against Bannon almost immediately after he was handed the presidential pardon.

Several close allies to Bannon have already recently received subpoenas to testify before a grand jury.

The state indictment comes weeks after Bannon was convicted of two counts of criminal contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the U.S Capitol.

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