For years, it appears that a parade of crooks followed the President and prosecutors tried to take them down one by one.
Federal officials allege that Bannon and others broke their promise to direct millions of these donations to the cause of securing the border with Mexico – the cause Donald Trump rose to political notoriety in 2015 (L Bannon’s lawyer pleaded not guilty on Thursday and his client was to be released on bail, including a $ 5 million bond to be secured by $ 1.75 million in cash or real estate.)
Upon hearing the news of another scandal, someone’s natural response might just be: of course.
Of course, the President’s former White House chief strategist would have swindled hundreds of thousands of Trump followers over $ 25 million
Of course, his non-profit organization said the money was going to build a giant border wall, one that Trump said Mexico was going to pay for.
Of course, Bannon is accused of using hundreds of thousands of dollars for personal expenses after repeatedly promising that all funds would go to this wall.
Of course, We build the wall didn’t really build a lot of wall
. How many? Published reports vary, but a survey by Texas Tribune and Propublica
(released in July, before the indictment), and which paints an unflattering picture of engineering snafus and accusations of political shenanigans, puts it about 3 miles away.
And of course, the president distanced himself from the man who helped make him president
, saying the whole notion of private funding for the wall was “inappropriate” and a case of “showboating”.
Read the indictment
and you will find a recitation of allegations that shock conscience, even blunted by exposure to Trumpworld.
According to prosecutors for the Southern District of New York:
- A million dollars was sent from the Wall Building Group to one of Bannon’s separate organizations so that part of it could be funneled “secretly” to We Build The Wall founder Brian Kolfage, who was also charged. Bannon is also said to have used hundreds of thousands to cover his own personal expenses. (Kolfage did not immediately respond to requests for comment, CNN reported Thursday).
- Kolfage pledged 100% of donations would go towards erecting the wall
- Bannon and a venture capitalist named Andrew Badolato embarked on the operation after questions arose about Kolfage’s past. (Badolato did not immediately respond to requests for comment, CNN reported Thursday). him what he called “holy hood” in the eyes of donors.
- According to the indictment.
The scheme prosecutors alleged appears to be the kind of fraud you might expect shady penny stock vendors to be committed. To borrow a phrase from the Trump campaign, promises were made … but seemingly without intention to keep them. Instead, reminiscent of Trump’s style of operation, Bannon and the others made commitments and, prosecutors say, quickly abandoned them.
The indictment includes references to Bannon’s alleged desire to control how Kolfage would actually be paid. (He insisted in a text to Badolato: “don’t agree, I don’t approve,” according to the indictment.)
With Bannon’s arrest, he returns to public view after a period where he appeared to be missing. A distinctly perceptible presence, though unkempt (Trump called him “Sloppy Steve”
Bannon seemed to be everywhere heading into the 2016 election and into the first year of the Trump presidency. In February 2017, he appeared on the time cover
next to the title “The great manipulator”.
Bannon, a political propagandist, sold himself to the public with a story that included his claim that he was outraged when his working-class father lost money on the stock market. The problem was Bannon was already engaged in his right-wing populism by the time his father lost that money
. And his father had made the decidedly risky choice to buy some of the stocks he sold with a seemingly bad tip – losing a hundred thousand dollars, Bannon told an interviewer – with borrowed money. As the New Yorker’s Nicholas Lemann would conclude, Steve Bannon’s original claim was “political mythology”.
The journey between the creation of myths and alleged fraud can be very short. Take, for example, Donald Trump’s so-called “Trump University”. Trump agreed to pay $ 25 million in 2018 to settle claims
people who said they were deceived by “the university”. (His lawyer said Trump settled the case “without admission of fault or liability,” according to the New York Times)
He then paid a Penalty of $ 2 million last December for misuse of a nonprofit charity – the Donald J. Trump Foundation
– controlled by him. The 2018 New York Attorney General’s trial in this case, according to the Washington Post, alleged that the president illegally “used the charity’s money to buy paintings of himself
and sports memorabilia
and to pay $ 258,000 in legal settlements
for its for-profit clubs, “as well as donating to political campaigns.
The foundation was shut down, and the president agreed to comply with the restrictions if he again undertakes charitable work in New York state.
Other Trump allies who have been indicted or jailed include the President’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort (Bannon effectively replaced him); his former lawyer, Michael Cohen; his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn; Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates; Representatives Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter (two early Trump supporters); and political donors / agents Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman
, who has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges
that they funneled foreign money into the US elections. The two are closely related to Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, and have aided Giuliani in his efforts to compile what he claimed to be damaging information about Trump’s political rival, the Democratic presidential candidate. Joe Biden, according to CNN.
Either way, these are men who seemingly promoted themselves with the kind of hype that connoisseurs of Trumpism would find familiar. This is the company that the president keeps
Still available for consultation on the morning of Bannon’s arrest, We Build the Wall website
is a super-patriotic mash-up that’s also true to the Trump style. It features a photo of one of Bannon’s co-defendants, square-jawed Brian Kolfage, with a stack of medals pinned to his suit jacket. Click around and you’ll find photos from the usual cast of controversial characters, including the President and his son Donald Jr. (the latter appeared at an event sponsored by the WBTW symposium in July 2019
); Former Milwaukee County Sheriff and Trump sidekick David Clarke
, famous for his cowboy hat; and Kansas crusader Kris Kobach, who complained about widespread voter fraud but couldn’t find it after Trump put him in charge of a commission dedicated to exposing it.
From the goal of the nonprofit wall-building organization to his arrest in Connecticut on board the yacht of exiled Chinese dissident Guo Wengui, Irony abounds in the case of fake populist Steven Bannon
. It should be noted that investigators from the US Postal Service – much maligned by Trump as he faces an election that will be conducted largely by mail ballot – have been implicated in the case, and the Southern District of New York is carrying the case.
One can imagine the president’s piquancy at the arrest of Bannon the day his rival Joe Biden was appointed to the Democratic National Convention. the The president said during his 2016 campaign that he would hire “the best
“Bannon is the latest in a seemingly ever-growing list of Trump associates facing federal criminal charges. Talk about contradicting the boss.