Samuel Case, FISM News
Steve Bannon, former head of Breitbart News and former chief strategist for Donald Trump, was arrested on Thursday and pleaded not guilty after he was charged with defrauding donors in a scheme to help build the president’s signature wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump fired Bannon from his White House post in August 2017.
Bannon, was among four people arrested and charged by federal prosecutors in Manhattan with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. They each face up to 40 years in prison if convicted, but would likely get much shorter sentences.
Prosecutors accused the defendants of defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors through a $25 million crowdfunding campaign called “We Build the Wall.” Bannon used hundreds of thousands of dollars of that money to cover personal expenses, according to the charges.
A handcuffed Bannon wore a protective white mask amid the coronavirus pandemic and two open-collared shirts when he appeared in federal court in Manhattan, where his lawyer entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf. He was freed on $5 million bond and barred by a federal magistrate judge from traveling internationally.
Trump told reporters at the White House that he felt “very badly” about the charges, but sought to distance himself from Bannon and the alleged scheme.
“I do think it’s a sad event,” Trump said. “I haven’t dealt with him at all now for years, literally years.”
Trump also said he did not believe he had ever met the three others charged.
More than 330,000 supporters have donated to private fundraisers and profiteers who have promised to build the wall on their own, a 2019 Reuters investigation
Sourced from Reuters American Wire, edited for brevity
The group tied to Bannon built two wall sections on private land in New Mexico and Texas, drawing criticism from local residents who said proper permits were not obtained. The Texas wall section has experienced erosion problems, a report last month showed.
Sourced from Reuters American Wire, edited for Brevity