President Donald Trump's former top adviser was caught red-handed along with a group of three other co-conspirators.
Late Thursday morning, President Donald Trump’s former top adviser Steve Bannon was charged in New York with fraud due to his relation to a fundraising scheme known as "We Build the Wall." The fundraiser was an online effort that collected over $25 million from the public for the President's infamous border wall, The New York Times reports. According to Audrey Strauss, the acting United States attorney in Manhattan, Bannon and three other defendants "defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction."
Is Mexico going to pay Steve Bannon’s bail?— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) August 20, 2020
the United States Postal Service also helped arrest Steve Bannon.— PoliticsVideoChannel (@politvidchannel) August 20, 2020
The former adviser was arrested earlier today (Thursday) on a two-count indictment unsealed in Federal District Court in Manhattan. Bannon reportedly crafted the plan to defraud thousands of donors along with three co-conspirators: Brian Kolfage, 38, an Air Force veteran from Miramar Beach, Florida.; Andrew Badolato, 56, a financier from Sarasota, Florida.; and Timothy Shea, 49, of Castle Rock, Colorado. Kolfage was the founder of the "We Build the Wall" campaign and promised donors he would "not take a penny in salary or compensation" of the money raised through the fundraiser. He added that all the raised funds would be used "in the execution of our mission and purpose," that is, building the border wall between the United States and Mexico (which the latter country was supposed to pay for in the first place).
Bannon’s friends, part 4— Carole Cadwalladr (@carolecadwalla) August 20, 2020
From: Arron Banks
To: Steve Bannon
‘We would like Cambridge Analytica to come up with a plan to fundraise in the States’ pic.twitter.com/5iME8CqFOG
Official photo of Steve Bannon being arrested. pic.twitter.com/km4XuXvvWO— Matt Fernandez (@FattMernandez) August 20, 2020
Both promises were false. Not only did Kolfage take $350,000 for his own personal use, but Bannon received more than $1 million from the fundraiser through an unnamed nonprofit organization. According to the prosecutors, he used hundreds of thousands of these dollars in order to pay for his own personal expenses. Prosecutors stated that in a text message exchange between Kolfage and Badolato, the "We Build the Wall" founder informed the latter co-conspirator that the payment scheme was “confidential” and should be kept on a “need to know” basis. The illicit flow of money was concealed through a shell company controlled by Shea.
Of Steve Bannon & the 3+ arrested in the alleged “We Build The Wall” scam, Brian Kolfage was the face of it. I interviewed him about auditing donations at the border last yr. He said 1 thing then showed up at our live shot the next day w/ a different story https://t.co/FfHMvNpsGx pic.twitter.com/htfCB2wIvu— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) August 20, 2020
How long until Donald Trump denies knowing Steve Bannon?— A Worried Citizen (@ThePubliusUSA) August 20, 2020
SDNY Inspector-in-Charge Philip R Bartlett stated that the four men created "sham invoices and accounts to launder donations and cover up their crimes, showing no regard for the law or the truth." He affirmed, "This case should serve as a warning to other fraudsters that no one is above the law, not even a disabled war veteran or a millionaire political strategist." Just three days ago, Bannon accused Democrats of "want the death of the American way of life." If he meant committing fraud and trying to get away with it, then perhaps that is a way of life that must be deconstructed.
I’m still trying to wrap my mind around that moment in 2019 when people across the country thought to themselves, “OK, the government isn’t building a wall. We need a new plan. Hmm… Hey, what if we pool our money and give it to Steve Bannon to build a private border wall!?!”— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) August 20, 2020
Rick Gates: Convicted.— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) August 20, 2020
Paul Manafort: Convicted.
George Papadopoulos: Convicted.
Mike Flynn: Convicted.
Michael Cohen: Convicted.
Roger Stone: Convicted.
Steve Bannon: Arrested.
Donald Trump: Impeached.