Ordinary Americans allocated donations for President Donald Trump’s promised border wall with Mexico. However, his former chief strategist and campaign chair Steve Bannon is accused of diverting $1 million to his own account. Three other individuals are also accused of having enriched themselves in the scheme.
What Did Bannon Allegedly Do?
Bannon, the former head of Donald Trump’s campaign and later chief strategist in the White House was arrested on Thursday for fraud. He and three accomplices, who were also arrested on Thursday, allegedly embezzled more than one million dollars that ordinary Americans had donated to build a wall on the border with Mexico. The charges are according to indictments from a New York state attorney.
Prosecutors believe that Bannon was the head of the plot. They allege that he helped launch a fundraising campaign in 2018, calling on Trump supporters to donate money to build the wall. The face of the “We Build The Wall” campaign was Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, who was seriously wounded in Iraq in 2004 and is one of the four men arrested.
According to the indictment, the hundreds of thousands of donors were led to believe that every cent would flow into a border wall. Trump initially promised its construction during his presidential campaign and in the early years of his presidency, however, he failed to secure sufficient funds from Congress.
More Than $25 Million Was Crowdfunded to Build the Wall
More than $ 25 million was raised for the project, which Trump claims to date that Mexico will bear the costs. However, Bannon is now accused of having diverted more than a=one million dollars into his own accounts and also ensured that hundreds of thousands of dollars were forwarded to Kolfage in order to finance his luxury life, the indictment claims.
In turn, Bannon allegedly utilized the money for “personal expenses” of several hundred thousand dollars. Half a year after the fundraising began in December 2018, “We Build The Wall” utilized part of the money to build a steel fence about one kilometer long on private land near the Texas border city of El Paso.
Involvement of the US Postal Service
The New York Postal Inspector was also involved in the investigation that led to the arrests and charges. According to him, the defendants forged receipts and other documents to cover up the embezzlement. When scammers use the US Federal Post Office, their crime is a case for federal prosecutors. In addition to Bannon and Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea have also been charged.
Bannon is considered the architect of Trump’s election victory, following which he came to the White House as chief strategist. Within months he fell out with Trump and left the White House.
The Trump Admin Stays Quiet
In response to Bannon’s arrest, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany stated on Thursday that the president had not had any contact with Bannon since then.
Last year, Bannon concentrated on networking European right-wing populists with one another to bring his fight against the “Class of Davos” to Europe and contribute to the dissolution of the European Union. However, in the end, he had little influence on the outcome of the European elections or any increased cooperation of the Eurosceptic parties.
Bannon Pleads Not Guilty
Bannon has already pleaded not guilty to the fraud charges in a New York court. Judge Stewart Aaron ruled Thursday that Bannon would be released on bail of five million dollars. Of this, Trump’s ex-advisor has to deposit $1.75 million as security. Aaron also imposed a travel ban for areas outside of the northeastern United States and Bannon has to hand in his passport.
While Bannon remains innocent until proven guilty, it appears that Bannon’s shtick of being the last line of defense between the “elites” and hardworking Americans may well have been exposed. This footage of him joking about stealing the border wall money certainly won’t increase his chances of a favorable outcome to the situation.