Steve Bannon pleads not guilty in scheme to defraud donors to campaign pledging to build border wall

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Steve Bannon pleads not guilty in scheme to defraud donors to campaign pledging to build border wall
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Steve Bannon pleads not guilty in scheme to defraud donors to campaign pledging to build border wall
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Former White House adviser Stephen Bannon has pleaded not guilty to charges of wire fraud and money laundering Thursday, after federal prosecutors in New York announced that Bannon and three others were indicted for allegedly defrauding donors to a $25 million fundraising campaign to build a wall along the southern border.

Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss said Bannon, Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea were arrested Thursday morning. Bannon was taken into custody by agents from the U.S. Postal Service off the coast of Connecticut on a 152-foot yacht registered to exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, law enforcement sources said. The indictment was unsealed Thursday morning.

Bannon was released on $5 million bond Thursday afternoon, and must forfeit his passport. He can only travel to D.C., Maryland, Connecticut for work, and the Eastern and Southern district of New York.

Bannon, 66, joined the Trump campaign in 2016 and subsequently served in the White House as chief strategist until being forced out in August 2017. He is the sixth close associate of the president to face federal charges since 2017.

Mr. Trump distanced himself from Bannon on Thursday, telling reporters at the White House that “I haven’t been dealing with him for a very long period of time.” The president also said he disliked the private effort to fund construction of the border wall and believed “it was being done for showboating reasons.”

In a July tweet, Mr. Trump referenced a section of wall built by a “private group which raised money by ads” and said “it was only done to make me look bad, and perhsps [sic] it now doesn’t even work. Should have been built like rest of Wall, 500 plus miles.” Others involved in the “We Build the Wall” project are former Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach, Sheriff David Clarke and Curt Schilling, none of whom were mentioned in the indictment.

The four men named in Thursday’s indictment are accused of defrauding hundreds of thousands of people who donated to the “We Build the Wall” fundraising campaign that raked in more than $25 million to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the indictment.

You can read the rest of Melissa Quinn’s article at CBSnews.com

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