Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was indicted and surrendered to New York state prosecutors Thursday morning.
He faces charges for his part in a “Build the Wall” group that raised millions on promises to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, but allegedly pocketed some of those donations. The charges are two counts of money laundering in the second degree, one count of conspiracy in the fourth degree, scheme to defraud in the first degree and conspiracy in the fifth degree.
Bannon entered the courtroom handcuffed but was smiling when he walked in. Bannon pleaded not guilty on all counts, and his attorney spoke on his behalf. Judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over the case, also adjudicated the fraud and tax evasion case of Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg.
As a condition of release, Bannon must surrender his passport. A prosecutors said “Bannon has means to flee the country and a history of” violating the law, a reference to his contempt of Congress conviction. Bannon was found guilty in July of refusing to comply with a subpoena to appear before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. He could face up to two years in prison when he’s sentenced next month.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said of Bannon at a press conference earlier Thursday, “The simple truth is it is a crime to profit off of donors.” James, at the same news conference that Bannon had used his connections to “cheat everyday Americans.”
“Steve Bannon stands out as a perfect example of this blatant inequality,” James said, adding that his donors were defrauded out of $15 million.
In a statement earlier Thursday, James said, “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. Mr. Bannon lied to his donors to enrich himself and his friends. We will continue to take on fraudulent behavior in every corner of society, including white collar criminals, because no one is above the law. I thank District Attorney Bragg for his close partnership on this matter and commend the dedicated teams at the Attorney General’s Office and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for their hard work.”
Bannon issued his own statement in expectation of his indictment Monday.
“Just days after being swatted three different times by deranged thugs from New York City inspired by the Biden Administration to assassinate me by police, the Soros-backed DA has now decided to pursue phony charges against me 60 days before the midterm election because WarRoom is the major source of the MAGA grassroots movement,” Bannon said in the statement.
After he left the court Thursday, Bannon shouted at reporters, “It’s all nonsense. They will never shut me up.” And he claimed he was being targeted for his support of former President Donald Trump.
Bannon had faced similar charges in federal court in 2020 but was pardoned by then-President Trump in his final days in office.