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Tag: steve bannon

New York Prosecutors Intensify Fraud Probe Of Steve Bannon

In recent weeks, several people close to Steve Bannon, former President Trump’s erstwhile adviser and strategist, received subpoenas to testify before a New York state grand jury about the ex-adviser’s fundraising efforts for a private border wall, which Trump promised to build and make Mexico pay for, CNN reported on Friday.

The subpoenaed testimony will aid the Manhattan District Attorney’s probe into Bannon, which kicked off shortly after Trump pardoned Bannon, CNN stated, citing unnamed sources privy to the investigation.

The subpoenas underscore the intensification of the Manhattan DA’s investigation, which could lead to criminal charges against Bannon. Trump’s pardon may shield Bannon from federal charges, but it does not affect state prosecutions.

Federal prosecutors accused Bannon and three others — Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shea — of fraud and money laundering for allegedly siphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars from “We Build the Wall,” a crowdfunding campaign for Trump’s border wall that raised $25 million.

Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said Bannon siphoned $1 million from We Build the Wall through a non-profit group he controlled to “secretly pay” Kolfage, a disabled Air Force veteran and face of the crowdfunding initiative. Bannon was also accused of diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars for his personal use.

“We’re off the coast of Saint-Tropez in southern France, in the Mediterranean,” Bannon said, sitting beside Kolfage on a yacht in 2019. “We’re on the million-dollar yacht of Brian Kolfage. Brian Kolfage, who took all that money from ‘We Build The Wall.’ No, we’re actually in Sunland Park, New Mexico.”

However, the looming investigation is not the end of Bannon’s legal woes. He was charged with contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a subpoena issued by the House Select Committee, a congressional panel investigating the January 2021 insurrection. Bannon pleaded not guilty.

News outlets asked Bannon’s lawyer about the subpoenas, and he replied, “I am unaware of these matters.”

According to the 2020 indictment, Kolfage, who promised not to pocket a single cent of the donations, spent his million on home renovations, a boat, and even plastic surgery, among other things.

Trump, who made building a “big, beautiful wall” a central part of his 2016 election campaign, later criticized the effort — which, in 2019, constructed one mile of an 18-foot-high fence on a private property it owned — saying it was initiated “only to make me look bad.”

Trump pardoned Bannon before leaving the White House but not his three co-conspirators. Last month, Kolfage and Badolato pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit fraud, and Kolfage also pleaded guilty to tax-related charges. Shea pleaded not guilty to wire-fraud, tax-related, and records-falsifying charges and is now on trial in federal court.

Bannon Promotes GOP Candidates Charged With Sexual Misconduct

Former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon hosted 2022 Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster on his podcast after eight women accused him of sexual misconduct, including a GOP state senator.

On the April 19 edition of his show, War Room: Pandemic, Bannon invited Herbster to discredit the reports of sexual misconduct.

Steve Bannon platforms Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster after eight reports of alleged sexual misconduct

Steve Bannon platforms Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster after eight reports of alleged sexual misconduct

During the interview, Bannon set up Herbster to suggest that the current Governor of Nebraska, Pete Ricketts, was behind the allegations.

Bannon asked, “Do you think the Governor Ricketts is in back of this?”

Herbster responded, “There’s no question in my mind about it. He is in back of this.”

Published with permission from Media Matters for American.

Endorse This! Obama Blasts Putin-Trump Axis And Likens Bannon To Russian Dictator (VIDEO)

President Obama, a man who was tortured by non-stop lies and insane conspiracies about his place of birth from the future divider-in-chief Donald Trump, knows all too well how the spread of disinformation across social media is poisoning our democracy. Speaking at Stanford University this past Saturday, Obama explained how social media companies need to start clamping down on deliberate disinformation and fact-free hate in order to preserve democracy.

“One of the biggest reasons for democracy’s weakening is the profound change that’s taken place in how we communicate and consume information,” Obama said. He urged social media companies to be more transparent in sharing how their algorithms determine news feeds.

“So much of the conversation around disinformation is focused on what people post,” Obama said, according to The New York Times. “The bigger issue is what content these platforms promote,”

Obama specifically called out far-right, alt-fact, white nationalist Steve Bannon and likened him to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

“People like Putin, and Steve Bannon for that matter, understand it’s not necessary for people to believe disinformation … You just have to flood a country’s public square with enough raw sewage.”

Watch the entire speech below:

@yourltldogtoo #obama #trump #clinton #facebook #twitter #instagram #russia #putin #election #2016 #2022 #news #fyp ♬ original sound - yourlittledogtoo

Michael Hayne is a comedian, writer, voice artist, podcaster, and impressionist. Follow his work on Facebook and TikTok

Trump Pardons Accused Fraudster Bannon During Final Hours In Office

President Donald Trump pardoned his former campaign strategist Steve Bannon on his last day in office, according to CNN, following a fierce internal debate over Bannon's fate that was ultimately decided in his favor.

Bannon faced charges brought by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York in an indictment released last August. Prosecutors allege that Bannon and three co-defendants defrauded thousands of donors to "We Build The Wall," a group raising money to construct a barrier along the southern border. The indictment charged that Bannon, Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shea siphoned at least a million dollars from the non-profit organization while claiming that the money went only to their construction project.

Attorneys and other Trump aides reportedly tried to discourage Trump from pardoning Bannon, but the president suddenly was keen to protect his former adviser, who has echoed Trump's lies about the presidential election. In fact Bannon has been among the most fanatical media promoters of unrest and even violence, as a leading voice in the "Stop the Steal" crusade that led to the sacking of the Capitol. That campaign apparently soothed Trump's fury at Bannon over disparaging public remarks about the president and his older children, especially Don Jr., whom he accused of "treasonous" behavior for secretly meeting with Kremlin agents during 2016.

If Bannon was auditioning for a pardon in recent weeks, his bloodthirsty pandering still gave pause to Trump's lawyers – who worried that the former adviser played a culpable role in the Capitol riot on January 6. For many weeks leading up to the assault on the Capitol, he broadcast strident calls to action, comparing the present political standoff to the bloody confrontations of the Revolutionary War and D-Day.

"All hell is going to break loose tomorrow," crowed Bannon on his January 5 "War Room" podcast, hours before erupting violence left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. "And all I can say is, strap in ... You have made this happen and tomorrow it's game day. So strap in. Let's get ready."

Until Tuesday evening, Trump aides and lawyers thought they had quashed the Bannon pardon. Evidently they were wrong.

Navarro Rebuffs Select Committee, But Another Trump White House Official Is Talking

Demanding to hear more about efforts to overturn the 2020 election from Peter Navarro, ex-President Donald Trump’s onetime trade adviser, January 6 Congressional investigators have now hit the former Trump White House lackey with a subpoena.

Keeping the demand short and sweet, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Chairman Bennie Thompson sent the notice to Navarro on Wednesday. The Mississippi Democrat highlighted that the probe’s request for his records and testimony was raised in light of admissions he himself has made in his memoir, In Trump Time.

Navarro’s history of sharing election fraud disinformation as that delay strategy unfolded in the runup to January 6 was also cited.

According to Navarro himself, he spent “a lot of time lining up over 100 congressmen, including some senators” to object to or delay the certification of Joe Biden’s win.

Navarro has previously and publicly disclosed that he and Steve Bannon met to discuss a delay strategy together, yet Navarro simultaneously insists he wasn’t gaming out a way to overturn the results. Rather, he and Bannon just wanted to trigger what would ultimately become a spectacle-ridden delay of the joint certification session at the Capitol. The plan was to allow the president’s grievances about so-called election fraud to be aired for an indeterminate period of time despite that fact that at this point, federal courts had overwhelmingly ruled against Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud.

“To pull off an operation Bannon has dubbed the Green Bay Sweep,” Navarro wrote in his book, “and thereby keep President Trump in the White House for a second term, we must have only peace and calm.”

Part of that “peace and calm” however, was also premised on the false notion that then-Vice President Mike Pence had the constitutional authority to stop Biden’s certification on January 6.

Pence did not have this authority, and he acknowledged he did not, albeit right up to the wire on Jan. 6. Testimony and documents already obtained by the January 6 committee have revealed that pressure was high for Pence to go along with Trump’s subversion scheme.

“I tried repeatedly to get to Pence and I couldn’t do it. I was locked out,” Navarro said in an interview with The New York Times.

In Navarro’s notice, Thompson also pointed out a report that the trade adviser authored on so-called election fraud. Its volumes feature titles such as “The Immaculate Deception, “The Art of the Steal,” and, “Yes, President Trump Won.”

“Because you have already discussed these and other relevant issues in your recently published book, in interviews with reporters, and among other places, on a podcast, we look forward to discussing them with you, too,” Thompson wrote to Navarro on Wednesday.

Navarro now says he will not comply and told CBS News that the January 6 committee comprises “domestic terrorists.” He slammed the panel with one of Trump’s old favorites, dubbing it a “partisan witch hunt,” and qualified his refusal on the grounds of executive privilege.

The committee must “negotiate any waiver of the privilege with the president and his attorneys directly, not through me,” Navarro told CBS.

Navarro Subpoena January 6 committee by Daily Kos on Scribd

Navarro’s furor in the press also included a few jabs at Pence and the former vice president’s staffers.

“Pence betrayed Trump. Marc Short is a Koch Network dog. Meadows is a fool and a coward. Cheney and Kinzinger are useful idiots for Nancy Pelosi and the woke Left,” Navarro bristled in an email to the Times.

The committee has given Navarro until February 23 to respond. The former Trump White House official is tempting a contempt of Congress scenario similar to that of former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

As Navarro receives his notice, the committee’s rolling interviews and record collection continues, with the latest person to sit for deposition being Sarah Matthews, a former White House deputy press secretary who voluntarily stepped down after the Capitol attack.

Matthews currently serves as a communications director for House Republicans on a House select climate committee. According to ABC, she sat for the interview with January 6 investigators voluntarily this week.

Matthews was one of several Trump White House aides to resign after January 6. She also cited her concerns with Trump’s conduct that day.

When Matthews stepped down, she said publicly that she was “honored to serve in the Trump administration” and was “proud of the policies we enacted,” but she added that she was “deeply disturbed” by what she saw that day.

“I’ll be stepping down from my role, effective immediately. Our nation needs a peaceful transfer of power.”

In a Twitter thread last month, Matthews was more cutting. She wrote on Twitter: “Make no mistake, the events on the 6th were a coup attempt, a term we’d used had they happened in any other country, and former President Trump failed to meet the moment.”

She continued: “While it might be easier to ignore or whitewash the events of that day for political expediency—if we’re going to be morally consistent—we need to acknowledge these hard truths.”

Over 500 interviews have now been conducted by the Jan. 6 committee. With Matthews this week and former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s appearance last week, investigators are expected to keep up the pace. There are plans underway this week to meet with several other Trump White House officials.

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Questioned By Cruz, FBI Official Debunks January 6 Conspiracy Propaganda

In a development that perfectly illustrates the right-wing media’s collective moral incorrigibility and imperviousness to facts, conservative commentators are now digging in further on a conspiracy theory about the January 6 insurrection — right after it was thoroughly dispelled on Tuesday.

The claims surround an Arizona man named Ray Epps who, on the night of January 5, 2021, was seen on video telling a crowd of Trump supporters to enter the Capitol the next day, and was also seen outside the Capitol building during the siege. Epps was identified online and interviewed by The Arizona Republic in the days following the attack, and it does not appear that he ever actually entered the Capitol or personally committed any violent acts that day.

In a hearing Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked FBI official Jill Sanborn a series of leading questions aimed at making it appear that Epps was connected to the FBI — questions that Cruz had been urged to pursue by Fox host Tucker Carlson last week. There is no credible evidence that Epps was some kind of point man in leading the entire attack, but his name has been spread prolifically by Darren Beattie, a former Trump administration staffer who has worked with Carlson to spread a propaganda campaign that the riot had been a setup by elements in the federal government to entrap conservatives.

Sanborn had responded to Cruz’s questions by explaining that the FBI could not get into specifics on sources and methods of investigations. But toward the end of the exchange, he asked her: “Did federal agents or those in service of federal agents actively encourage violent and criminal conduct on January 6?”

She responded: “Not to my knowledge, sir.”

In response, former Trump adviser and far-right media personality Steven Bannon — who has his own record of incitement leading up to the January 6 insurrection — immediately accused Sanborn of having perjured herself.

Beattie appeared with Bannon as a guest and delivered something of a backhanded compliment to Cruz for his reversal from calling the rioters “terrorists” to now spreading the theory that the riot was a false-flag operation: “And so I have to give credit to Ted Cruz. I think this is a testament to the fact that constructive bullying does work.”

Later in the broadcast, Bannon delivered a tirade in response to the January 6 committee’s tweet explaining that it had spoken to Epps, who confirmed he was neither an FBI agent or informant.

“You're liars, and we're going to get to the bottom of all of it, and you're not going to be able to hide,” Bannon proclaimed. “Save your receipts, preserve your documents.”

Tucker Carlson, the man who arguably had done more than anyone else to pressure Cruz into parroting these conspiracy theories, followed up on this broad range of denials Tuesday night by asking new rhetorical questions to suggest the committee was lying: “Supposedly this interview was conducted in secret last November. If that is true — we don't know that it is, but let's say it is — then why did the committee wait months to tell us today in a tweet? … Can we see a transcript of this interview? If not, why not?”

The new pile of follow-up questions that Carlson asked were remarkably similar to tweets from Tuesday afternoon from right-wing commentator Julie Kelly, a frequent guest on Carlson’s January 6 conspiracy theory beat who has also claimed that a D.C. police officer testifying about his violent and traumatic experiences that day was a “crisis actor.” Kelly also claimed that the committee’s denial that Epps had ever worked at the direction of a law enforcement agency was “a pretty narrow denial, by the way.”

Cruz also appeared that night on Fox News, this time with prime-time host Sean Hannity, who said that Cruz had “asked the FBI very important questions about that day. Their answers, or lack thereof, are very telling.”

It is very much worth remembering that text messages released a month ago revealed that during the January 6 riot, Hannity sent text messages to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows urging that Trump make a statement asking people to leave the Capitol. But later that same evening, the Fox host spread false claims that the Capitol rioters may have been left-wing militants disguised as Trump supporters — which had to have been a deliberate lie, because if he had actually believed that, then his private message for Trump to call off the mob would have been pointless.

Hannity and Cruz also claimed that Sanborn had failed to deliver a blanket denial of agency involvement in fomenting January 6 — even though she in fact did state that no such deeds occurred according to her knowledge, video of which was included right before that in the segment. Meanwhile, the segment chyron claimed that “Top FBI official dodges when Cruz asks if agents participated in Jan 6th.”

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Senator, what an exchange that was. OK, so the FBI — this is the executive assistant director, says, “I can't answer that, we can't reveal sources and methods.” That doesn't prohibit, though, the FBI, senator, in my mind that they could have said the FBI did nothing illegal, the FBI did nothing unethical, the FBI would never encourage any type of violence or participate and such. That would be a broad sweeping generalization without giving out any sources, any methods, or any evidence whatsoever. Why couldn't there be a blanket denial that that's not who we are, that's not the way we act?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Well, there should have been and if they were doing their jobs, that was what they would have said.

Fox Nation host Lara Logan also retweeted a message from right-wing radio host Jesse Kelly, who continued to insist that Epps was “an FBI informant who was tasked by the FBI to get people to break the law so the FBI could attack Republicans.”

It may also be worth noting that Cruz’s persistent conflation of terms like “agent” and “informant” could have led to problems in Sanborn’s ability to answer his questions. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), a member of the House select committee investigating January 6, explained in a Twitter thread that these terms are actually very different categories, with informants usually being “criminals that turn to save their own butt. An informant is not an agent. But Ted wants you to think it is.” (Kinzinger also reiterated that Epps was not even an informant.)

With that in mind, the sort of questions Cruz asked, such as, “Did any FBI agents or confidential informants actively participate in the events of January 6th? Yes or no?” were overly broad because they could have potentially covered anyone who became an informant in the period of time since the riot — that is, to “save their own butt” after the fact — something that law enforcement officials would not publicly comment about.

By contrast, Sanborn actually was able to answer Cruz’s final question on the topic. But that is not going to stop right-wing commentators from acting in extremely bad faith by continuing to spread false-flag conspiracy theories that shift blame for the Capitol attack — especially when they’ve got some serious skeletons in their own closets.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters