If Steve Bannon surrenders to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office Thursday as expected, he will be a block from federal court where he and a triple amputee war veteran have been charged with siphoning vast sums of money from a crowdfunding effort to build a border wall.
Bannon escaped federal charges when he became one of 73 people granted pardons during then-President Donald Trump’s final hours in office. Trump could easily have made it to 74 by including Bannon’s co-defendant Brian Kolfage, who lost both legs and part of an arm while serving in Iraq.
But despite Trump’s many statements of support for combat veterans, he remains someone who evaded conscription during the Vietnam War by claiming he suffered from bone spurs. And to him, Kolfage was just an idiot who willingly put himself in danger.
With no apology, Kolfage continued to face charges of wire fraud and tax evasion for his part in a crowdfunding effort allegedly aimed at building a wall on our border with Mexico. He faced a maximum of 20 years in prison when he decided to make a deal.
In a virtual appearance in Manhattan federal court on April 21, Kolfage entered a guilty plea and said he would face no more than 63 months in prison. Judge Analisa Torres followed standard protocol in investigating whether the defendant was of sound mind and not under the influence of drugs. Kolfage said he was taking prescribed medication.
“It’s a narcotic for nerve pain related to my leg amputations,” he said. “It has to do with my incapacity.”
But Kolfage assured the court that his mind was clear. He continued with a prepared statement describing how he used a GoFundMe campaign called “We Build the Wall” to raise $25 million and then plundered it using a shell company and fake bills.
“They promised the public that 100 percent of the money would go to building the wall; Is that correct?” asked the judge.
“That’s right,” Kolfage said.
“Despite your promise, you have agreed with others to keep a large sum of money for yourself; Is that correct?”
Kolfage admitted to making $350,000 by buying a Land Rover and a Jupiter Marine pleasure boat, which he christened war fighter. The indictment charged Bannon with pocketing $1 million. But thanks to the last-minute pardon, Bannon was a free man and spent the day of Kolfage’s guilty plea hosting his War Room podcast.
Even as Kolfage admitted the plan to scam concerned citizens, Bannon was on his show with former Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes, stoking the same fears that drove so many people to get involved with the We Build the Wall campaign. Bannon said President Joe Biden should be impeached for failing to stem the flow of immigrants through Mexico.
“The beginning, the intensification of this invasion of our country,” Bannon said. “That’s what I’m talking about.”
Cortes said, “All Americans suffer from an open border. There is never a good time to tolerate the kind of lawlessness that is destabilizing not only our country but the rest of the hemisphere.”
Cortes seemed to have either forgotten or shrugged off the lawlessness surrounding Bannon’s We Build the Wall effort. Cortes went on to say that America is returning economically to the 1970s, but “at least in the 1970s we had a controlled border.” He claimed that the current situation at the border “was created by design”.
“It’s absolutely intentional,” he said. “This is a mass incursion into America, an incursion and incursion into our country.”
He accused Biden of “willfully lapsed” in the “first government role.”
“To maintain order, to maintain public order,” Cortes said. “He must be charged”
All of this was streamed on the day that Bannon’s former partner admitted under oath to joining him in what would constitute not only flagrant theft but gross treason by the standards of Trumpism, if Trumpism has any actual standards at all would have.
And to make it even more morally bankrupt, the partner was a triple amputee combat veteran whom Trump refused to pardon while he let Bannon skate. Trump’s supporters gave another measure of their own moral short-sightedness by simply accepting it.
The judge set Kolfage’s sentencing date for September 6, and it appeared Bannon would be free to continue podcasting toxic untruths compounded by wild hypocrisy. Name the show The Lie Room.
But then, as Kolfage’s sentencing date drew near, it was pushed back to December. And on the day that Kolfage was to learn how long he will be behind bars, The Washington Post broke the story that Bannon was scheduled to surrender to the Manhattan District Attorney Thursday to face criminal charges. A presidential pardon does not rule out a prosecutor’s office.
The federal case was put together with the help of investigators from both the Manhattan Attorney’s Office and the New York Attorney General. Any of these investigators in a state case will already be familiar with the evidence should the Manhattan DA decide to indict We Build the Wall.
Some glimpses of what lies ahead for Bannon come from a moment in Kolfage’s plea hearing three months ago, when Judge Torres asked prosecutors if they had sufficient evidence to convict.
“Sure,” said Assistant US Attorney Nicolas Roos. “The government’s evidence would include bank records and other records of financial transfers relating both to the donations and to the direct or indirect transfer of funds to Mr Kolfage’s bank accounts.”
He said the government also has “public exposures in the form of social media posts, news articles and other statements on television.”
In addition, “emails and text messages were received as a result of search warrants being run on both email and iCloud accounts, as well as cell phones and other electronic devices. Finally, government evidence would also include testimony from witnesses, including donors.”
If Bannon surrenders Thursday, as expected, he will face arraignment in state court a block from federal court, where Kolfage is scheduled to be sentenced in December.
Kolfage can expect to serve federal time when Bannon learns if he will end up in state prison. Bannon may end up wishing he had never been pardoned.
Anyhow, Trump supporters are left with a question worthy of a podcast: how can you support a man who is giving a pal a break and a vet who lost three limbs in battle for more than five years for the same thing face crime?
https://www.thedailybeast.com/steve-bannons-trump-pardon-wont-spare-him-his-amputee-war-vet-cronys-fate?source=articles&via=rss Steve Bannon’s Trump pardon will not spare him the fate of his amputee war veteran Crony