Steve Bannon, a former adviser to President Trump, was arrested today with three other suspects after the Justice Department charged hundreds of thousands of dollars of fraud related to an online fundraiser. The “We're building the wall” campaign is said to have raised over 25 million US dollars. This is a developing story and I will update this post. It's worth noting that, despite demands from Democratic members and commentators to indict him, the Justice Department continued to investigate or prosecute various Trump supporters under Attorney General Bill Barr.
Manhattan prosecutors claim that Bannon, campaign leader Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea received "hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from We Build the Wall, each of which was used in ways inconsistent with the organization's public agencies . " In particular, the complaint states that Kolfage had publicly guaranteed that he would not receive any salary or compensation and that 100 percent of the funds raised would go to the wall. Prosecutors allege he actually took more than $ 350,000 for personal use and then tried to hide it. Bannon is alleged to have received $ 1 million of the money, including use for personal expenses.
This is the type of criminal complaint that is most challenging for defense lawyers. Jurors respond poorly to allegations of stealing funds of public interest, and personal expenses seem even more extravagant when compared to a public funding campaign.
The four defendants face a conspiracy to commit wire fraud and a conspiracy to commit money laundering, each with a term of up to 20 years in prison.
In particular, this case comes from the southern district, which critics claimed would not pursue Trump-related cases after Barr replaced US attorney Geoffrey Berman. As with the Lafayette Park report in the media, many of the "facts" about the action against Berman were later contradicted. This will certainly continue to be discussed in good faith by people. However, these allegations indicate that the Office continued to operate independently as promised by Barr.