Steve Bannon Dumping Lawyers In Border Wall Fraud Case
Former White House strategist Steve Bannon is jettisoning his lawyers in a New York case accusing him of defrauding supporters of donations he claimed would be used to build a wall along the U.S. southern border.
Bannon’s current attorney David Schoen told Judge Juan Merchan in a Manhattan courtroom Thursday that “irreconcilable differences have arisen” on Bannon’s defense team, according to various press reports.
“We certainly don’t need to show good cause and we don’t need to go into detail,” Schoen said, per ABC News.
Merchan was skeptical, however, and asked if the action was merely an attempt to delay proceedings. But Schoen insisted there was a serious breakdown in communication between Bannon and his lawyers.
The judge gave Bannon until Feb. 28 to find new representation.
Donald Trump had pardoned Bannon on his final night as president, allowing the strategist to dodge federal charges in the fundraising scheme. Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato, two men also connected to the We Build the Wall campaign, were indicted with Bannon on the federal charges and pleaded guilty last year.
But Bannon and We Build the Wall were then indicted in New York in September following a joint investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and New York Attorney General Letitia James. Trump’s pardon only protected against federal charges.
The We Build the Wall operation, launched in 2019, raised some $15 million on “false promises,” and hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on organizers’ wages and expenses, Bragg said at a press conference when he announced the charges. More than 11,000 donors were allegedly defrauded out of more than $730,000 throughout New York.
James accused Bannon of taking “advantage of his donors’ political views to secure millions of dollars which he then misappropriated.”
“It is a crime to turn a profit by lying to donors, and in New York, you will be held accountable,” Bragg said.
Bannon, who has said the case is politically motivated, has pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering, conspiracy and scheme to defraud. If convicted of all the charges, he could face up to 15 years in prison.
Bannon was sentenced in October to four months in prison and fined $6,500 after he was found guilty of acting in contempt of Congress for refusing a subpoena to testify before the House Jan. 6 committee. The sentence was stayed to give Bannon time to file an appeal.
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