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Steve Bannon expected to surrender and plead not guilty Thursday on charges related to border wall effort

Sep 8, 2022, 7:30 AM
Former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon speaks to members of the press as he departs...
Former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon speaks to members of the press as he departs from the second day of the trial of the contempt of Congress charges stemming from his refusal to cooperate with the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., July 19, 2022. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger

(CNN) — Steve Bannon is expected to plead not guilty Thursday when arraigned on New York state charges related to an effort to raise money to fund construction of a wall along the southern US border, attorney Robert Costello told CNN.

The former Donald Trump aide will surrender to face the charges Thursday morning, people familiar with the matter told CNN.

The state charges, which have been returned in an indictment, are based on the same conduct Bannon was charged with by federal prosecutors in 2020 that alleged he and three others had defrauded donors in the border wall effort, which raised more than $25 million.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office launched a criminal investigation into Bannon’s “We Build the Wall” crowd-fundraising activities early last year after then-President Trump pardoned Bannon on federal fraud charges relating to the same alleged scheme.

Presidential pardons do not apply to state investigations.

As CNN previously reported, Bannon was federally charged with diverting more than $1 million to pay an alleged co-conspirator and cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenses. Prosecutors alleged that the donors, including some in New York, were falsely told that all the money contributed would go toward the construction effort.

In recent months, several people close to Bannon were brought before the state grand jury.

Manhattan prosecutors subpoenaed bank records and quietly worked on the investigation over the past year as they investigated Trump and his real estate business, sources familiar with the matter previously told CNN. But the district attorney’s office deferred a charging decision on Bannon until federal prosecutors concluded their case against his three co-defendants, who were not pardoned.

Bannon issued a statement late Tuesday, in part calling the indictment “phony charges” 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 in the statement, adding: “They are coming after all of us, not only President Trump and myself. I am never going to stop fighting. In fact, I have not yet begun to fight. They will have to kill me first.”

A federal jury in July found Bannon guilty of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, US Capitol attack. He is scheduled to be sentenced in October and faces a minimum sentence of 30 days in jail, according to federal law.

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Steve Bannon expected to surrender and plead not guilty Thursday on charges related to border wall effort