The Washington Post

Pardoned Bannon now faces N.Y. fraud charge

- BY SHAYNA JACOBS, JACQUELINE ALEMANY AND JOSH DAWSEY

new york — Stephen K. Bannon is expected to surrender to state prosecutor­s on Thursday to face a new criminal indictment, people familiar with the matter said, weeks after he was convicted of contempt of Congress and nearly two years after he received a federal pardon from President Donald Trump in a federal fraud case.

The precise details of the state case could not be confirmed Tuesday evening. But people familiar with the situation, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sealed indictment, suggested the prosecutio­n will probably mirror aspects of the federal case in which Bannon was pardoned.

In that indictment, prosecutor­s alleged that Bannon and others defrauded contributo­rs to a $25 million fundraisin­g effort, called “We Build the Wall,” taking funds that donors were told would support constructi­on of a barrier along the U.s.-mexico border.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which handles statelevel prosecutio­ns, has been evaluating Bannon’s alleged involvemen­t in that scheme since shortly after Trump pardoned him, The Washington Post reported in February 2021.

Presidenti­al pardons apply only to federal charges and cannot prohibit state prosecutio­ns.

Bannon, a former top strategist for Trump who was briefly a White House aide, pleaded not guilty to the federal charges in August 2020, after authoritie­s pulled him off a luxury yacht and brought him to court. He was accused of pocketing $1 million in the scheme.

Months later, in the last hours of his presidency, Trump included Bannon on a sweeping clemency list of about 140 people.

Two other men, including disabled veteran Brian Kolfage, pleaded guilty in federal court in connection with the fundraisin­g scheme. A trial involving a third alleged participan­t, Timothy Shea, ended in a mistrial in June when the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict.

The state indictment comes less than two months after Bannon, 68, was convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the House committee probing the Jan. 6 insurrecti­on.

The state case will be handled in New York State Supreme Court by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D). A spokespers­on for Bragg declined to comment when reached Tuesday evening.

But three people familiar with the matter confirmed Bannon is expected to turn himself in on Thursday.

When reached for comment, Bannon issued a statement through his spokespers­on that described the indictment as “phony charges” and “nothing more than a partisan political weaponizat­ion of the criminal justice system.”

The state effort to investigat­e Bannon in the border-wall fraud scheme began under Bragg’s predecesso­r, Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

In addition to the Bannon investigat­ion, Bragg’s office also inherited a long-running investigat­ion into Trump and his business practices. Last month, Trump’s longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselber­g, pleaded guilty in connection to a tax scheme. The Trump Organizati­on is expected to face trial in the tax case in October.

Investigat­ors from the New York state attorney general’s office have teamed up with the district attorney’s lawyers to assist in both the Trump business practices case and the Bannon case.

Bannon’s conviction for contempt of Congress related to the Jan. 6 investigat­ion made him the closest Trump confidant to be convicted criminally in the fallout of the attack on the Capitol. The two-witness trial lasted a week and establishe­d that Bannon ignored a congressio­nal subpoena that he was legally obligated to answer.

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