Steve Bannon surrenders to court, accuses Manhattan DA of trying to shut him down before midterms

Stephen K. Bannon on Thursday accused Manhattan prosecutors of attempting to silence him ahead of the upcoming midterm elections with new criminal charges.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged the former Trump adviser and host of “War Room: Pandemic” with money laundering, conspiracy and fraud related to the “We Build the Wall” campaign alleging Mr. Bannon duped donors who gave money to the cause.

Mr. Bannon, 68, pleaded not guilty and says he is being targeted for building “the dominant platform in all media for grassroots participation.” He said prosecutors want to take him down ahead of “the most important midterm election since 1862, since the civil war.”

“If they try to go with 60 days left, just like they did in 2020, and make sure they can shut me down and take me out of it, I’ve got news for them: I’ve not yet begun to fight,” he told reporters when he emerged from a Manhattan courthouse. “We are going to win a sweeping landslide at every level.”

Mr. Bannon had turned himself into authorities at the courthouse earlier Thursday.

“We are not going to back down,” he said. “And they will not be able to shut me up.”

Prosecutors allege Mr. Bannon funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in “We Build the Wall” donations meant for building a wall at the border to third-party entities and then transferred the funds to two other people involved in the scheme.

“It is a crime to turn a profit by lying to donors, and in New York, you will be held accountable,” Mr. Bragg said in a statement.

Mr. Bannon faced federal charges from the same allegations but was pardoned before trial by former President Donald Trump on his last day of office.

Presidential pardons do not apply for charges brought by states. Hundreds of those who donated are from New York, Manhattan prosecutors said.

Federal prosecutors alleged in 2020 that Mr. Banon pocketed more than $1 million in donations from the “We Build the Wall” campaign which raised more than $25 million in total.

Mr. Bannon told donors that 100% of their donations would go to building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Instead, prosecutors allege he used a portion of the funds to pay personal expenses and to pay “We Build the Wall” co-founder Brian Kolfage a salary.

Kolfage pleaded guilty to federal charges in April. His sentencing, which was scheduled for this week, was recently postponed until December.

On Tuesday Mr. Bannon called the charges “phony” and “nothing more than a partisan political weaponization of the criminal justice system.”

“I am proud to be a leading voice on protecting our borders and building a wall to keep our country safe from drugs and violent criminals,” he said. “They are coming after all of us, not only President Trump and myself. I am never going to stop fighting.”

This article includes wire service reports.

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