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Bannon Surrenders to New York Prosecutors to Face We Build the Wall Crowdfunding Charges

Trump ally and former White House adviser Steve Bannon surrendered to the Manhattan district attorney’s office on Thursday and will face charges related to his role in an online crowdfunding effort to fulfill Trump’s promise to build a wall along America’s southern border. Mexico, according to CNN.

Bannon and three others were previously arrested and charged with defrauding donors to their “We Build the Wall” online fundraising campaign. The group has raised more than $25 million to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, promising to use “100 percent” of donations to fund the wall’s construction. But the group was found to have paid founder and Air Force veteran Brian Colefage more than $1 million to cover personal expenses, including yachts, an SUV and cosmetic surgery.

The Washington Post New York has charged Bannon with money laundering, fraud and conspiracy for his role in the We Build the Wall group, it reported Thursday.

Bannon pleaded not guilty to federal charges in 2020 and was pardoned by President Trump for his role in the alleged scheme. However, New York began its own investigation into Bannon and his associates shortly after the pardon. Because presidential pardons only apply to federal crimes, the state can still press its own charges. New York Attorney General Letitia James is expected to formally announce Bannon’s indictment later Thursday afternoon.

In a statement, Bannon called the state’s charges “phony,” according to CNN. “They’re coming after all of us, not just President Trump and me,” Bannon said in the statement. “I will never stop fighting. Actually, I haven’t started the fight yet. They should kill me first.”

Kolfage launched We Build the Wall as a GoFundMe campaign in December 2018, eventually raising enough funds to build a three-mile fence along the southern borders of Texas and New Mexico. As of January 2019, Kolfage decided to raise the money through a new nonprofit called We Build the Wall Inc. The nonprofit’s board is composed of longtime Trump allies such as Bannon and Kris Kobach.

Kobach allegedly used the organization’s email list to fundraise for his own US Senate campaign in Kansas.

In July, Bannon was found guilty of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena by the House Select Committee charged with investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. Bannon is expected to be sentenced next month and spend at least 30 days in jail.

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