Judge Says Steve Bannon Siphoned $ 1 Million From ‘Build The Wall’ Campaign While Dismissing Indictment

A federal judge has officially dismissed an indictment against Stephen Bannon in light of his presidential pardon, but noted that Donald Trump’s former adviser allegedly took more than $ 1 million in funds from people who thought they would. a donation to the US-Mexico Border Wall campaign.

US District Judge Analisa Torres’ order ended months of legal haggling, but a state investigation into the “We Build The Wall” fundraising program is still looming.

“In October 2019 … Bannon and the other defendants received hundreds of thousands of dollars each, which they used for personal expenses such as travel, hotels, and personal credit card debt,” he says. ‘order.

Mr Bannon was arrested and charged with three other people in August last year for what is known as massive fundraising and money laundering fraud for their role in ‘We Build The Wall’, a private campaign to raise funds to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. .

Hundreds of thousands of people donated to the campaign, which raised more than $ 25 million after being approved by allies of Mr. Trump. Campaign organizers, along with Mr. Bannon – the Trump administration’s chief strategist – allegedly defrauded their donors on the pretext that the money was being used for construction.

Mr. Trump then granted “full and unconditional pardon” to Mr. Bannon in January on his last day in the White House, five months after his arrest.

While Judge Torres allowed his request, saying that “dismissing the indictment is the right step” of the former president’s pardon, he detailed his alleged role in the scheme.

She said that “forgiveness implies guit,” citing an 1833 New Jersey court.

“If there is no guilt, there is no reason for forgiveness. … A party is acquitted for innocence; he is pardoned out of favor, ”Judge Torres noted.

Conservative activist Brian Kolfage, who founded the “We Build the Wall” campaign, was recently indicted in a separate case for tax evasion.

The judge wrote granting forgiveness: “Of course, ‘a forgiveness does not, on its own, [a defendant] innocent of the alleged. . . violation ”, and noted that pardons“ do not erase the probable cause of the guilt ”.

“On the contrary, since the country’s earliest days, courts, including the Supreme Court, have recognized that even if there is no formal admission of guilt, the issuance of a pardon can ‘square.[y] an imputation of guilt; accept a confession.

Mr. Bannon and Mr. Kolfage and two others have denied all charges against them.

The order also stated that Mr Bannon had paid Mr Kolfage a secret salary from campaign funds and used it for himself.

“Bannon, in addition to using these funds to pay Kolfage’s secret salary, used” a substantial portion … for personal uses and expenses unrelated to We Build the Wall, “the judge noted.

The other three co-defendants in the case have not received a pardon and are preparing to be tried in federal court. Mr Bannon is still under investigation in New York state after investigators opened a case following Mr Trump’s pardon.

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