When Donald Trump fired his former campaign manager and chief strategist Steve Bannon in 2017, just six months after taking office, after a disagreement, the 68-year-old suddenly seemed to be gone. But the contact between the two men remained and Bannon continued to work on right-wing populist movements disintegrating western democracies - also in Europe, where he met in March 2018 with the AfD politicians Alice Weidel and Beatrix von Storch as well as the French Marine Le Pen of the Front National (now the Rassemblement National) met. Bannon also continued to campaign for Trump and was in contact with the then-president the day before the Capitol was stormed in January 2021. In his podcast, Bannon predicted: "All the hell is going to break loose tomorrow ").
So it was no surprise that Steve Bannon was among those people who were pardoned by Donald Trump on the last day of his term in office. This eliminated a charge of conspiracy to wire fraud and money laundering related to donations to build a wall on the US-Mexico southern border. Bannon is said to have embezzled money with accomplices as a consultant to the fundraising organization We build the Wall. But the case is apparently catching up with the right-wing populist mastermind again. According to a report in the "New York Times" (NYT), the Manhattan public prosecutor's office had picked him up with their own investigations - since a president can only pardon federal crimes, as they say, but not state crimes. This Thursday, the New York prosecutor wants to bring charges against Bannon. Attorney General Letitia James to update the public on the charges later today. Bannon turned himself in to authorities that morning.
It has not yet been officially confirmed that, as suspected, the allegations of fraud in connection with the Wall donations are again at stake. Despite this, Steve Bannon has already railed that the charges are definitely "false". "They're following us all," the NYT quoted him as saying. In doing so, he suggested that the new proceedings were not objective, but politically motivated.
Bannon is facing renewed allegations of fraud related to the We build the Wall fundraiser because the pardon dropped the allegations in the first case. The 68-year-old has always called himself innocent in the matter. Two of his alleged accomplices pleaded guilty in April, and their conviction was recently postponed to December. The trial of a third co-defendant fell through because the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict.
"It didn't work then," Bannon recalled of his 2020 arrest, "it certainly won't work now either." Nothing can be seen in his case other than a politicization of the criminal justice system.
Sources: New York Times; politics; News agencies AFP, DPA