Steve Bannon hit with money-laundering and conspiracy charges – live | US politics

Bannon indicted for money laundering and conspiracy

Steve Bannon has now been formally indicted, the Guardian’s Hugo Lowell reports.

Bannon was charged with money laundering and conspiracy in connection with his role in a fundraising effort to privately underwrite the construction of the US-Mexico border wall, according to the indictment unsealed on Thursday.

Just in: Top former Trump strategist Steve Bannon has been indicted for money laundering and conspiracy over his role in the “We Build the Wall” fundraising scheme — correcting earlier tweet that misstated the first count

— Hugo Lowell (@hugolowell) September 8, 2022

The indictment includes counts of money laundering in the second degree, conspiracy in the fourth degree and one of scheming to defraud.

Bannon surrendered himself to the Manhattan district attorney’s office after being told in recent days that charges were imminent, sources familiar with the matter said.

We’ll have more details soon…

Key events

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

The New York Times has also got hold of a copy of Geoffrey Berman’s book, describing “new details about how the justice department under President Donald J Trump sought to use the US attorney’s office in Manhattan to support Mr Trump politically and pursue his critics – even pushing the office to open a criminal investigation of former secretary of state John Kerry”.

John Kerry.
John Kerry. Photograph: Luong Thai Linh/EPA

As the Guardian has its own copy of the book, here’s a precis of what Berman writes about the Kerry issue.

After ending his stint as Barack Obama’s secretary of state in 2017, Kerry continued to talk to diplomatic contacts, among them Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister with whom he had conducted talks around the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. This is normal.

Trump opposed the deal. He also did not think Kerry talking to the Iranians was normal, and tweeted angrily about it. Berman writes:

On 9 May 2018, the day after the second Trump tweet, the co-chiefs of SDNY’s national security unit … [were told] Main Justice was referring an investigation to us that concerned Kerry’s Iran-related conduct … the focus was to be on potential violations of the Logan Act.”

The Logan Act, from 1798, prohibits private citizens from conducting relations with foreign powers. It has rarely been used and indeed is generally held not to be usable at all.

“This is what we were being asked to consider using to prosecute Kerry,” Berman writes.

The investigation never leaked to the media, Berman says. He also points to the irony that Trump himself was generally held to have conducted foreign policy, regarding Israel, before taking office.

The SDNY decided not to act, in part, Berman writes, because it held that the Logan Act “does not prohibit a former US secretary of state from talking to a foreign official”.

Berman calls William Barr’s conduct over the investigation – as attorney general, putting political pressure on prosecutors to please his president – “outrageous”.

Barr had a second go at getting Kerry for Trump, Berman says, by moving the investigation to Maryland. That didn’t work either.

ABC: Justice department probing Trump fundraising committee

The department of justice inquiry into Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat to Joe Biden has expanded to look at the activities of the former president’s political action committee Save America, ABC News is reporting.

A federal grand jury has been empaneled to look specifically at the group’s fundraising operations and, the network says, it has issued subpoenas for “documents, records and testimony from potential witnesses”

EXCLUSIVE: A federal grand jury investigating the Jan. 6 attack and efforts to overturn the 2020 election has expanded its probe to examine Trump’s leadership PAC, sources say. https://t.co/mTQrPkT9jh

— ABC News (@ABC) September 8, 2022

The ABC report states:

The subpoenas, sent to several individuals in recent weeks, are specifically seeking to understand the timeline of Save America’s formation, the organization’s fundraising activities, and how money is both received and spent by the Trump-aligned PAC.

According to ABC, Save America PAC has brought in more than $135m, including transfers from affiliated committees, according to disclosure records, since its inception days after the 2020 election.

As of the end of July, the PAC reported having just under $100m in cash on hand, the network said.

Six-count indictment for Steve Bannon

And here’s the full 22-page grand jury indictment for Steve Bannon that’s just been released.

Bannon has been indicted on six counts, two of money laundering in the second degree, three of conspiracy in the fourth and fifth degree, and one of scheming to defraud in the fifth degree.

The conspiracy and scheme to defraud was in essence, the indictment alleges, Bannon and other leaders of We Build The Wall Inc soliciting money to help with the construction of Donald Trump’s border wall (that the former president insisted Mexico would pay for), and assuring donors that nobody was taking a salary.

The executives, the state alleges, were actually siphoning off “hundreds of thousands of dollars” for themselves, and in Bannon’s case around a million dollars.

We’ll learn more at the lunchtime press conference from New York attorney general Letitia James and Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg.

Meanwhile, you can read the indictment here.

Bannon indicted for money laundering and conspiracy

Steve Bannon has now been formally indicted, the Guardian’s Hugo Lowell reports.

Bannon was charged with money laundering and conspiracy in connection with his role in a fundraising effort to privately underwrite the construction of the US-Mexico border wall, according to the indictment unsealed on Thursday.

Just in: Top former Trump strategist Steve Bannon has been indicted for money laundering and conspiracy over his role in the “We Build the Wall” fundraising scheme — correcting earlier tweet that misstated the first count

— Hugo Lowell (@hugolowell) September 8, 2022

The indictment includes counts of money laundering in the second degree, conspiracy in the fourth degree and one of scheming to defraud.

Bannon surrendered himself to the Manhattan district attorney’s office after being told in recent days that charges were imminent, sources familiar with the matter said.

We’ll have more details soon…

The precise charges against Steve Bannon, previously unreported, include two counts of money laundering in the second degree and one count of conspiracy in the fourth degree, according to this tweet from Graham Kates of CBS News.

Hugo Lowell

Here’s my colleague Hugo Lowell’s account of Steve Bannon’s surrender to authorities in New York this morning:

Top former Trump strategist Steve Bannon surrendered himself at the Manhattan district attorney’s office on Thursday morning to face expected state fraud charges connected to his role in the “We Build the Wall” fundraising effort.

Bannon arrived shortly after 9am and criticized the anticipated indictment as a political prosecution coming 60 days before the 2022 midterm elections.

Bannon and his lawyer, David Schoen, are expected to meet with the district attorney’s office for around five hours and then cross over to the courthouse to make an initial appearance, where he will probably be released on his own recognizance.

The move by the Manhattan district attorney’s office was quietly communicated to Bannon in recent days, sources said of the indictment, which remains under seal.

Bannon is expecting to face fraud charges alleging that he siphoned off more than $1m for personal expenses from the “We Build the Wall” fundraising effort that promised to send all proceeds towards underwriting the completion of the US-Mexico border wall.

The state charges are expected to mirror a previous federal indictment that also charged three others – disabled veteran Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea – for defrauding donors to the online crowdfunding scheme that raised more than $25m, according to court filings.

Bannon received a presidential pardon from Donald Trump in the last days of his administration that expunged the federal charges. But pardons do not apply to state-level prosecutions and the New York state charges mark significant legal peril for the architect of Trump’s 2016 election win.

Read the full story:

Hillary Clinton is tweeting about leaving the first daughter Chelsea Clinton at the Kremlin as she and then-president Bill Clinton headed to Moscow airport after a state visit to Moscow.

“Look, it could happen to anyone,” the former secretary of state and Democratic presidential candidate said in a lighthearted tweet Thursday morning, after the story came to light on NBC’s Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Hillary and Chelsea Clinton appeared together on the show on Tuesday.

“We had a lot of, kind of crazy times. I’ll tell you,” Hillary Clinton replied when Fallon asked her if she had any “crazy” vacation stories.

“I hope she doesn’t remember this because it was pretty traumatic. We took her to Russia – Russia – when we went on a state visit when Bill was president.

“You know, there’s the formal goodbye, so Bill and I were ushered into the beast, the big limousine, to head to the airport, not knowing that we had left her behind.

“Can you imagine leaving my only child in the Kremlin?”

The situation was quickly rectified and mother and daughter reunited, she said.

Asked the same question, and not knowing her mother’s answer, it took Chelsea Clinton a moment to remember: “…when they left me at the Kremlin,” she said.

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

Donald Trump’s second attorney general, William Barr, is stupid, a liar, a bully and a thug, according to a hard-hitting new book by Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney for the southern district of New York whose firing Barr engineered in hugely controversial fashion in summer 2020.

“Several hours after Barr and I met,” Berman writes, “on a Friday night, [Barr] issued a press release saying that I was stepping down. That was a lie.

“A lie told by the nation’s top law enforcement officer.”

Geoffrey Berman.
Geoffrey Berman. Photograph: Erik S Lesser/EPA

Trump’s politicisation of the US Department of Justice was a hot-button issue throughout his presidency. It remains so as he claims persecution under Barr’s successor, Merrick Garland, regarding the mishandling of classified information, the Capitol attack and multiple other investigations.

Berman describes his own ordeal, as Barr sought a more politically pliant occupant of the hugely powerful New York post, in Holding the Line: Inside the Nation’s Preeminent US Attorney’s Office and its Battle with the Trump Justice Department, a memoir to be published next week. The Guardian obtained a copy.

Berman testified in Congress shortly after his dismissal. He now writes: “No one from SDNY with knowledge of [his clashes with Barr over two and a half years] has been interviewed or written about them. Until now, there has not been a firsthand account.”

Berman describes clashes on issues including the prosecution of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer, and the Halkbank investigation, concerning Turkish bankers and government officials helping Tehran circumvent the Iran nuclear deal.

Barr was also attorney general under George HW Bush. He has published his own book, One Damn Thing After Another: Memoirs of an Attorney General, in which he discusses SDNY affairs but does not mention Berman. Promoting the book, Barr told NBC he “didn’t really think that much about” his former adversary.

Berman calls that “an easily disprovable lie”.

Read the full story:

Bannon says indictment is ‘political persecution’

Steve Bannon gave a thumbs-up to supporters as he arrived at the Manhattan district attorney’s office this morning, and criticized his anticipated indictment as a political prosecution.

He shouted out “60 days” as he entered the building, a presumed reference to the number of days before November’s midterm elections.

He also said it was an “irony, on the very day the mayor of this city has a delegation down on the border, they’re persecuting people here”, a reference to New York mayor Eric Adams’s decision to send officials to the southern border to discuss Texas governor Greg Abbott’s policy of busing migrants to Democratic-run cities and states.

Bannon and his lawyer, David Schoen, are expected to meet with the district attorney’s office for around five hours, and then cross over to the courthouse to make an initial appearance, where he will likely be released on his own recognizance.

Steve Bannon arrives at the Manhattan district attorney's office on Thursday.
Steve Bannon arrives at the Manhattan district attorney’s office on Thursday. Photograph: Eduardo Munoz Avarez/AP

According to CNBC, one heckler yelled at Bannon: “Stop hurting America, you greasy, two-bit grifter!”

Bannon released a defiant statement earlier this week, calling his indictment “phony” and a “partisan political weaponization of the criminal justice system”.

His statement said: “They are coming after all of us, not only president Trump and myself. I am never going to stop fighting. In fact, I have not yet begun to fight. They will have to kill me first”.

Bannon is also awaiting sentencing after being convicted in July of contempt of Congress charges after refusing to cooperate with the January 6 House committee investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat to Joe Biden.

Prosecutors to discuss Bannon indictment

New York’s attorney general Letitia James and Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg say they will host a press conference this afternoon to announce the indictment of Steve Bannon.

Letitia James.
Letitia James. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

A press release from James’s office says the prosecutors will host the briefing on Bannon’s “We Build the Wall” alleged fundraising scam at the Manhattan district attorney’s office at 1pm, followed by Bannon’s arraignment at 2.15pm.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office started examining whether to pursue a case against Bannon almost immediately after he received a federal pardon from Donald Trump shortly before he left office last year.

That pardon carries no weight in the New York state case against Bannon.

As Steve Bannon is arraigned by authorities New York, take a listen to this Guardian Politics Weekly America podcast from July, in which Jonathan Freedland discusses with Jennifer Senior of the Atlantic the dangers posed to US democracy by Bannon and his extremist followers.

Bannon surrenders to NY authorities in fundraising fraud case

Steve Bannon has turned himself in to authorities in New York to face fraud charges over an alleged fundraising scam.

Donald Trump’s former chief strategist arrived at the Manhattan district attorney’s office shortly after 9am, and is expected to be arraigned soon.

Steve Bannon just walked into the Manhattan district attorney’s office — expect him to be there for several hours

— Hugo Lowell (@hugolowell) September 8, 2022

Bannon is facing fraud charges alleging that he siphoned off more than $1m for personal expenses from the “We Build the Wall” fundraising effort that promised to send all proceeds towards underwriting the completion of the US-Mexico border wall.

The state charges mirror a previous federal indictment that also charged three others – disabled veteran Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea – for defrauding donors to the online crowdfunding scheme that raised more than $25m, according to court filings.

Bannon received a presidential pardon from Trump in the last days of his administration that expunged the federal charges. But pardons do not apply to state-level prosecutions.

The expectation is that Bannon will be released on his own recognizance. We’ll bring you more as we learn it.

Read more:

Steve Bannon to turn himself in to authorities

Good morning US politics followers and welcome to Thursday’s live blog.

Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon is expected shortly to turn himself in to authorities in Manhattan, New York, where he is facing state charges over an alleged fundraising scam involving the former president’s infamous border wall.

Prosecutors say Bannon siphoned around $1m in “personal expenses” from $25m of donations from Trump supporters who thought they were contributing to the construction of the wall.

Yes, that’s the same border wall that Trump said Mexico would be paying for.

Bannon, whose pardon by Trump for similar federal charges carries no weight in the New York state case, is expected to surrender at about 9am and be released on his own recognizance shortly after.

We’ll bring you developments as they happen. While we wait, here’s my colleague Hugo Lowell’s story.

Here’s what else we’re watching:

  • The Senate is running short on time to get a same-sex marriage bill passed before senators disperse for midterm election, but there are signs of optimism that a bipartisan alliance is building to reach the necessary 60-vote threshold in the equally divided chamber.

  • Joe Biden will give a lunchtime address about Covid-19 vaccines in which he is expected to push the new bivalent booster shots ahead of an expected fall surge in coronavirus cases, and repeat his calls for Congress to fund more vaccines, tests and therapies.

  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will deliver her daily briefing at 12.30pm.

Leave a Comment