NEW YORK—Former President Donald Trump’s longtime ally Steve Bannon surrendered Thursday to face fresh charges that he duped donors who gave money to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Bannon’s state-level charges in New York are expected to closely resemble an attempted federal prosecution that ended abruptly, before trial, when Trump pardoned Bannon on his last day in office. The presidential pardons are only for federal offenses. In Bannon’s case, any double jeopardy argument would likely fall flat because his federal case didn’t involve an acquittal or conviction.
Bannon, 68, arrived at the Manhattan district attorney’s office shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday. Bannon had stated Tuesday in a statement that he will be facing charges soon.
Bannon said earlier that District Attorney Alvin Bragg “has now decided to pursue phony charges against me 60 days before the midterm election,” accusing the Democratic prosecutor of targeting him because Bannon and his radio show are popular among Trump’s Republican supporters.
Bannon said federal prosecutors “did the exact same thing in August 2020 to try to take me out of the election,” referring to his arrest months before Trump’s reelection loss. “This is nothing more than a partisan political weaponization of the criminal justice system.”
Bragg and Letitia James (New York Attorney General) planned a press conference at 1 PM to discuss the charges against Bannon.
Bannon was taken from a yacht at the Connecticut coast by federal agents in 2020. He was charged with receiving more than $1,000,000 in donations to wall projects. The prosecution claimed that thousands of investors believed their contributions would be used for the border wall, but Bannon paid an official salary and personal expenses.
While the wall Bannon’s group proposed was to be built on the U.S. southern border, more than 1,000 miles from the Big Apple, Manhattan prosecutors have jurisdiction to pursue charges against Bannon because some donors to the effort lived in New York.
Federal prosecutors pointed out that residents in New York City had made donations to the wall building project during the trial of an ex-Bannon co-defendant. One witness that testified was an official with the charities bureau of the New York attorney general’s office who said that a charity backing the wall project had filed paperwork to accept donations in the state. The attorney general’s office is also involved in Bannon’s state criminal case.
Trump pardoned Bannon who had plead not guilty to federal charges.
Two other men involved in the “We Build the Wall” project pleaded guilty in April. Their sentence had been set for next week. However, it was rescheduled to December.
A third defendant’s trial ended in a mistrial in June after jurors said they could not reach a unanimous verdict.
In another case not covered by Trump’s pardon, Bannon was convicted in July on contempt charges for defying a congressional subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. His sentence is set for October, and he could be facing up to two year in federal jail.
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