By MICHAEL R. SISAK
NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump’s longtime ally Steve Bannon surrendered Thursday to face state money laundering and conspiracy charges in New York alleging he duped donors who gave money to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Bannon is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday afternoon.
Prosecutors say that while Bannon promised donors all the money they gave would go to building the wall, he was involved in funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to two other people involved in the scheme. The indictment didn’t identify those people by name, but the details match those of Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato, who pleaded guilty to federal charges in April.
Bannon’s state-level charges in New York stem from the same alleged conduct as an attempted federal prosecution that ended abruptly, before trial, when Trump pardoned Bannon on his last day in office. Manhattan prosecutors also charged WeBuildTheWall, Inc., a nonprofit entity that Bannon and others allegedly used to solicit donations.
Presidential pardons apply only to federal crimes, not state offenses. In Bannon’s case, any double jeopardy argument would likely fall flat because his federal case didn’t involve an acquittal or conviction.
Bannon, 68, arrived at the Manhattan district attorney’s office shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday.
“This is an irony,” Bannon told reporters as he entered the building.
“On the very day the mayor of this city has a delegation down on the border, they are persecuting people here, that try to stop them at the border,” he said, referring to a recent trip by New York City officials to Texas.
“This is all about 60 days from the day,” he said, referring to the upcoming national election in November.
In an earlier, written statement, Bannon accused Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of pursing “phony charges” against him ahead of the midterm election, saying the Democratic prosecutor targeted him because Bannon and his radio show are popular among Trump’s Republican supporters.