It was rumored that Steve Bannon might return to the cast of The Apprentice: Presidential Edition in some capacity in the campaign, but it looks like he’s going to have his hands full outwitting the feds, instead. Bannon was arrested in New York Thursday on charges of stealing money from the “We Build The Wall” campaign and putting it in his own pocket. Imagine that? Abusing a charity? Wonder where he got that idea from? Daily Beast:
Three others were indicted along with Bannon: Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea.
“As alleged, the defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction,” [Audrey] Strauss [SDNY prosecutor] said.
The campaign, which asked supporters to donate money to build Trump’s much-hyped wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, raised $17 million in its first week. It was shut down soon after by GoFundMe after it became unclear how the money would be used. […]
Bannon, through a non-profit organization under his control, received over $1 million from the fundraiser that he used to pay for hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenses and secretly pay Kolfage, the indictment alleges. […]
To conceal the payments to Kolfage, Bannon and the two other men allegedly devised a scheme to route payments from “We Build The Wall” through Bannon’s non-profit and a shell company under Shea’s control, prosecutors said. They did so by using fake invoices and sham “vendor” arrangements.
It is glaringly evident that Trump and his cronies are in business to grift the gullible and nothing more. If Americans, or any portion of them, are so naive as to think that Donald Trump cares about anybody but himself, or has any interest beyond his own gratifications, then we are more dumbed down than we know. And unfortunately, that’s the main take away from the entire Trump experience, is how many of the people can be fooled how much of the time.
It will be interesting to see what right-wing media does with this particular piece of news. It’s foreseeable that Trump will distance himself from Bannon, as another “coffee boy” but how he’s going to distance himself from his failed vanity project wall, and all the grift surrounding it, remains to be seen.
And consider this: what are the odds of Paul Manafort, once Trump’s campaign manager, being convicted of fraud, and then Steve Bannon, also once Trump’s campaign manager, not to mention chief strategist, being indicted for the very same thing? Very interesting pattern here. No wonder Barack Obama was imploring Americans to save democracy last night.
This story was breaking at 7:50 a.m. Pacific time. It will be updated as it develops.