Steve Bannon, former strategist to former President Donald Trump, Thursday surrendered to New York authorities on financial fraud charges. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Jr. and New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the charges against Bannon, claiming the former strategist wrongly collected more than $15 million from US political donors under a “We Build the Wall” campaign.
Bannon and the not-for-profit corporation he founded as a part of the financial fraud scheme, WEBUILDTHEWALL, INC., were indicted Thursday in New York State Supreme Court. Prosecutors allege that in 2019 Bannon lied to political donors, promising the money donated to WEBUILDTHEWALL would be directed towards the construction of a wall along the southern US border with Mexico. Bannon then diverted donated funds from WEBUILDTHEWALL towards salaries, which the organization specifically told donors would not occur.
During a press conference to announce the indictment, Bragg said, “It is a crime to turn a profit by lying to donors, and in New York, you will be held accountable.” James, also present at the press conference, added, “There cannot be one set of rules for everyday people and another for the wealthy and powerful – we all must play by the same rules and must obey the law. Mr. Bannon took advantage of his donors’ political views to secure millions of dollars which he then misappropriated.” Bannon is charged with two counts of money laundering in the second degree, two counts of conspiracy in the fourth degree, one count of scheme to defraud in the first degree and one count of conspiracy in the fifth degree.
This is the latest in a series of criminal charges for Bannon. In August 2020, Bannon was indicted by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York on similar charges. Before leaving office in January 2021, Trump extended a presidential pardon to Bannon, barring the US Attorneys Office from prosecuting him. However, in July 2022, a federal jury convicted Bannon of two counts of contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a subpoena from the US House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol.