Another former Trump campaign adviser has been indicted — this time it was Steve Bannon who was arrested on suspicion of fraud.
In response to the development, a White House statement sought to distance the president from Bannon — as did a subsequent statement from Trump himself, as reported by the Daily Caller.
“They did not have a lot of money”
News broke on Thursday that Bannon had been arrested along with three other alleged co-conspirators on charges related to wire fraud and money laundering.
The charges stem from a project known as “We Build the Wall,” which collected money from donors with the stated goal of funding a section of the barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Bannon headed the project along with Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shea, according to reports. An indictment claims that some defrauded donors “wrote directly to Kolfage that they did not have a lot of money and were skeptical about online fundraising campaigns, but they were giving what they could because they trusted Kolfage would keep his word about how their donations would be spent.”
While the project maintained a website stating that all money raised would benefit the project, hundreds of thousands of dollars were allegedly siphoned off to pay for various personal expenses, according to a CBS News report.
Following an indictment, authorities reportedly arrested Bannon as he was aboard a 152-foot yacht registered to exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui.
“Being done for showboating reasons”
He has pleaded not guilty and was released from custody after posting bond in the amount of $5 million.
Despite their formerly close relationship, Trump reacted to this week’s news by reiterating his previous skepticism regarding the “We Build the Wall” project.
“I don’t like that project,” he said. “I thought it was being done for showboating reasons. It was something I very much thought was inappropriate to be doing.”
That position was echoed in a statement by White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who asserted that “everyone knows” the president “has no involvement in this project and felt it was only being done in order to showboat, and perhaps raise funds.”
While many Trump critics are pointing to the indictment as the latest in a string of criminal issues among his former allies, supporters are likely to see it as yet another leftist attempt to paint the president as guilty by association.