Bannon Expected To Surrender Thursday To Face New Indictment
By Karen Freifeld
(Reuters) - Steve Bannon, a onetime top strategist for former President Donald Trump and recipient of a presidential pardon, is expected to surrender to New York authorities on Thursday to face a new indictment, a person familiar with the matter said.
Bannon in 2020 was accused in federal court of defrauding donors to a fund to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, but that indictment was dismissed after he was pardoned in the final hours of Trump's presidency.
The new indictment is for state criminal charges that may mirror parts of the earlier federal case, though it is unclear because the indictment is still sealed, the person said.
A spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office declined to comment.
Bannon himself issued a statement Tuesday night, after the Washington Post first reported the new indictment.
"This is nothing more than a partisan political weaponization of the criminal justice system," Bannon said in the statement.
He said Manhattan federal prosecutors did the same thing in August 2020 to try to take him out of that year's election.
"It didn't work then; it certainly won't work now," Bannon said.
Bannon is expected to appear in state court in Manhattan on Thursday and then be released pending trial, the person said.
A president can pardon people for federal crimes but not state crimes.
Bannon is not the first Trump ally to be charged in state court. In 2019, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office attempted to pursue former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on felony charges, including mortgage fraud, that were similar to crimes for which Manafort had been convicted in federal court.
But the charges were dismissed after rulings that they amounted to double jeopardy, or trying someone twice for the same conduct. Manafort was pardoned by Trump in 2020.
Bannon had pleaded not guilty in the federal case, but double jeopardy may not apply because he was never tried.
Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato, who were charged alongside Bannon in the federal “We Build the Wall” case, pleaded guilty to fraud charges in April.
Bannon runs a popular hard-right podcast, "War Room," where he regularly promotes pro-Trump information and hosts guests who deny that Trump lost the 2020 election.
In July, Bannon was convicted of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating last year's attack on the U.S. Capitol, a verdict the panel called a "victory for the rule of law."
Bannon was a main adviser to Trump's 2016 Republican presidential campaign, then served as his chief White House strategist during 2017 before a falling out that was later patched up.
Bannon, 68, championed "America First" right-wing populism and fierce opposition to immigration that became hallmarks of Trump's presidency.
(Reporting by Karen Freifeld; additional reporting by Luc Cohen; editing by Jonathan Oatis)