Federal prosecutors indicted political strategist Steve Bannon Thursday for his alleged involvement in a privately funded border wall fraud scheme.
Southern District of New York (SDNY) prosecutors submitted that Bannon, along with three others, garnered hundreds of thousands of online donors for “We Build the Wall” while falsely claiming that the entirety of the proceeds went towards the project’s goal to construct a southern border wall. The effort raised over $25 million and prosecutors allege that Bannon received over $1 million.
The indictment cites Bannon’s comments that the organizers would “not take a penny in salary or compensation, “and “100% of the funds raised … will be used in the execution of [We Build the Wall’s] mission and purpose.”
We Build the Wall was started as an effort to raise money through GoFundMe for the construction of a wall along the border of the US and Mexico. It was later turned into a non-profit organization.
President Donald Trump, who brought Bannon into his administration at the start of his term, distanced himself from Bannon’s indictment and insisted that he did not agree with an effort to construct a wall through private funds.
Bannon, if convicted, faces up to 20 years in prison. After exiting the courthouse on Thursday, Bannon declared that the entire situation was intended to block the border wall’s construction.