Steve Bannon, a onetime top strategist to former U.S. President Donald Trump and an architect of his successful 2016 White House run, is expected to surrender on Thursday to New York authorities to face state charges in a new indictment.
The charges come more than 1-1/2 years after Trump pardoned Bannon in the final hours of his presidency, excusing Bannon from a federal fraud case. Bannon, 68, and three other men had been charged in August 2020 with defrauding donors in a private $25 million fundraising drive, known as “We Build the Wall,” to help build Trump’s signature wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Bannon pleaded not guilty to the federal indictment, including to charges he diverted close to $1 million for personal expenses. But his indictment was dismissed after Trump pardoned him. Bannon’s new indictment is being issued by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
The case may mirror parts of the federal case concerning the wall, though it is unclear because the indictment has not been unsealed yet, a person familiar with the matter said. Presidential pardons cover federal charges and do not prohibit state prosecutions.
Bannon is expected to appear in a New York state court in Manhattan on Thursday. He is being charged less than two months after being convicted of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from a House of Representatives committee probing the Jan 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
In a statement on Tuesday night, Bannon called the New York case “nothing more than a partisan political weaponization of the criminal justice system.” The state probe of Bannon began under Bragg’s predecessor Cyrus Vance.
Bragg also inherited Vance’s probe into Trump’s namesake company, the Trump Organization, which along with longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg was charged with tax violations in July 2021. Weisselberg pleaded guilty in August to a variety of tax charges, and the Trump Organization faces a trial scheduled to start in October.
Bannon would not be the first former Trump ally charged in both federal and state court. In March 2019, Vance brought fraud charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort that were similar to charges on which Manafort had been convicted in federal court and sentenced to 7-1/2 years in prison.
But a New York judge dismissed the charges nine months later because they amounted to double jeopardy, or trying someone twice for the same conduct. Trump pardoned Manafort in December 2020.
Double jeopardy may not apply to the Bannon case because he never went to trial on the federal charges. The leader of the wall campaign, Brian Kolfage, pleaded guilty in April to wire fraud conspiracy and tax charges, and is awaiting sentencing.
Another defendant, Andrew Badolato, also pleaded guilty over the scheme, while a judge in June declared a mistrial in the case of the final defendant, Timothy Shea. Bannon championed “America First” right-wing populism, including fierce opposition to existing immigration practices, that became hallmarks of Trump’s presidency.
He now runs the popular podcast “War Room,” and often hosts guests who deny that Trump lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden.