The Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on its previous endorsement of a self-funded border wall group, whose leaders were arrested on Thursday morning and charged with defrauding donors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A video from July posted by Brian Kolfage — one of four men arrested on Thursday and charged with fraud — shows Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf standing next to a Customs and Border Patrol agent as she praised the self-funded wall project from the We Build the Wall group.
"This current private wall that was built from what I have learned has been very effective in the condition it has come," the unidentified CBP agent says in the video, which is branded with a We Build the Wall watermark.
Along with the video, Kolfage tweeted: "The private wall that @WeBuildtheWall built and funded is @DHSgov [and] @CBP ENDORSED and APPROVED. Never forget it."
DHS declined to comment to the American Independent Foundation about whether it still stands by the project in the wake of the indictment, nor what DHS' relationship was with the We Build the Wall organization.
Prior to the indictments, the project had already come under fire when the small half-mile segment of the wall the group built began showing signs of erosion.
Donald Trump, for his part, tried to distance himself from the project, despite the fact that one of the men indicted, Steve Bannon, was his former campaign CEO as well as a senior adviser in the early days of his administration.
Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., has also praised the We Build the Wall project, as well as helped fundraise for it.
Trump Jr. gave a testimonial for the group at an event in 2018. Trump Jr. was also seen with some of the group's advisory board members in July of 2019 posing with a We Build the Wall branded gun, according to a photo obtained by CNN's Andrew Kaczynski.
Kolfage, Bannon, and two other men — Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea — were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. If convicted, each charge comes with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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