In particular, the Justice Department is charging Bannon and three others — Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea, all associated with the “We Build The Wall,” a private charity that builds sections of border wall on private land along the U.S.-Mexico border — with massive fraud.
“As alleged, the 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,” acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss with the Southern District of New York said, according to the DoJ statement.
“While repeatedly assuring donors that Brian Kolfage, the founder and public face of We Build the Wall, would not be paid a cent, the defendants secretly schemed to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage, which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle,” Strauss continued.
“The defendants allegedly engaged in fraud when they misrepresented the true use of donated funds,” added Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the United States Postal Inspection Service.
“As alleged, not only did they lie to donors, they schemed to hide their misappropriation of funds by creating sham invoices and accounts to launder donations and cover up their crimes, showing no regard for the law or the truth,” Bartlett continued.
“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.”
All four were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and a single count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to the Justice Department, each count carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence, so even if Bannon gets convicted and only sentenced to half the time he could receive, he’ll likely die behind bars.
According to the charging document, Kolfage allegedly funneled $350,000 to his personal accounts, while Bannon is accused of taking more than $1 million. The group is accused of routing donations through a shell company under Shea’s control using phony invoices and fake “vendor” arrangements, among other ways.
For his part, Bannon says what happened is that he has become the latest Trump associate to be targeted by a “political hit job.”
“Look, I am not going to back down. This is a political hit job. Everybody knows I love a fight. You know, I was called honey badger for many years. You know, honey badger doesn’t give up, so you know I’m in this for the long haul,” he said Friday on his daily “War Room: Pandemic,” podcast. (Related: It’s literally UNREAL: Author of “bombshell” Trump White House book ADMITS he can’t verify all that’s in it.)
“I’m in this for the fight. I’m going to continue to fight. This was to stop and intimidate people that want to talk about the wall. This is to stop and intimidate people that have President Trump’s back on building the wall,” he continued.
Without knowing whether or not Kolfage or Bannon actually took money from donors, what he is saying about opposition to the border wall is 110 percent correct. The president has gotten pushback from the deep state, from Democrats and Republicans, none of whom really want to shut off the flow of cheap labor from south of the border.
For his part, Kolfage — an Air Force veteran and triple amputee who served in Iraq — told CNN that the Justice Department’s case is wrong.
“They lumped every purchase I've made in the past two years into the indictment, even before [We Build the Wall], not taking into account the fact I have other sources of income to pay for things,” he said.
Meanwhile, there has only been one conviction over the massive "Spygate" scandal, and it involved an FBI lawyer who may have only played a minor role.
The message from the deep state continues to be, then: 'If you associate with Donald Trump you'll pay the price.'