New Peril For Steve Bannon In New York Fraud Probe
“Now I’ve got my hands back on my weapons,” Steve Bannon boldly declared when he resigned his White House position as an adviser to Donald Trump in 2017 and returned to Breitbart. To this day the often double-shirted Bannon makes references to guns and other weaponry on his podcast.
Within that context Bannon should appreciate the new legal peril he’s facing from the double-barreled investigation of him in New York. The Washington Post reports that the New York attorney general’s office has partnered with Manhattan’s district attorney to investigate him for the alleged fundraising scam that prompted his federal pardon from Trump. Such collaboration between the attorney general and the district attorney is rare.
Sources told The Post that investigators employed by the state attorney general were deputized to work as prosecutors with the team led by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., whose investigation of Bannon began shortly after his pardon was announced in January. The move adds prosecutorial firepower to a criminal case widely seen as an attempted end-run around the former president’s bid to protect a political ally. “The AG is working hand-in-hand with the DA’s office in leading this investigation,” one person said. New York Attorney General Letitia James “has been looking at Bannon for a while,” the person added.
Trump’s pardon, a one-page document bearing a Justice Department seal, clears Bannon of “offenses charged” in the border-wall donation drive and “for any other offenses” that could be charged in connection to it. But presidential pardons do not apply to state investigations.
Bannon is alleged to have siphoned more than $1 million in donations, keeping much of it for himself and funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to Brian Kolfage, a disabled Air Force veteran with whom he operated the campaign. Also charged in the scheme were Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea. Kolfage, Badolato and Shea were not pardoned by Trump and still face the federal charges, some of which carry prison terms of 20 years. Since Bannon was pardoned he must cooperate with law enforcement and could be forced to testify at the three men’s trials.