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U.S. judge dismisses indictment against ex-Trump adviser Bannon, cites pardon

PoliticsMay 26, 2021 01:06AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon exits the Manhattan Federal Court, following his arraignment hearing for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New

By Jonathan Stempel and Karen Freifeld

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Steve Bannon, the onetime top strategist for former President Donald Trump and recipient of a presidential pardon, on Tuesday won dismissal of an indictment accusing him of defrauding donors to a fund to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres in Manhattan said dismissal was "the proper course" in light of the pardon, which Bannon received in the final hours of Trump's presidency.

Prosecutors had argued that instead of dismissing the indictment, the judge should merely dismiss Bannon as one of the four defendants. The defendants had been charged in connection with the alleged siphoning of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the $25 million "We Build the Wall" crowdfunding campaign.

But the judge said the pardon was valid, and that even if Bannon did not formally admit guilt "the issuance of a pardon may carry an imputation of guilt; acceptance a confession of

it."

Prosecutors had said the pardon "speaks for itself" and provided all the "finality" Bannon was entitled to.

The office of U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in Manhattan declined to comment.

Bannon was "thrilled" with the indictment's dismissal, his lawyer Robert Costello said after speaking with him.

But the judge said the pardon was valid, and that even if Bannon did not formally admit guilt "the issuance of a pardon may carry an imputation of guilt; acceptance a confession of it."

Prosecutors had said the pardon "speaks for itself" and provided all the "finality" Bannon was entitled to.

The office of U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in Manhattan declined to comment.

Bannon was "thrilled" with the indictment's dismissal, his lawyer Robert Costello said after speaking with him.

"She certainly got the result right," Costello said, referring to the judge. "A pardon doesn't rewrite history.... But in this case, we're dealing with a person who is presumed innocent by the Constitution of the United States and whose plea was not guilty, and nothing changes that history either."

It was not immediately clear how the dismissal will affect Bannon's co-defendants, or whether they might try to steer blame toward Bannon as they defend themselves.

The defendants include Brian Kolfage, an Air Force veteran and triple amputee who led the We Build the Wall campaign.

"There is nothing I have to say about the situation," Kolfage's lawyer Harvey Steinberg said in an interview. "It is completely out of our hands, and within the Executive Branch's discretion."

Bannon, 67, championed the "America First" right-wing populism and fierce opposition to immigration that became hallmarks of Trump's presidency.

U.S. judge dismisses indictment against ex-Trump adviser Bannon, cites pardon
 

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Comments (8)
Bhuv Ar
Bhuv Ar May 27, 2021 9:17AM ET
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Biden flew his Son hunter to China for a deal, and his brother Jimmy Biden made lucrative investments there too during his Vice-Presidency .. Can we have some coverage on that too please?
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi May 27, 2021 9:17AM ET
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did Joe Biden profit from any of these alleged deals?  it's pretty easy to answer since we can see his tax returns......can you say the same re your orange messiah?
Frederick Chotsky
Chotsky May 26, 2021 9:32PM ET
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... and John Kerry is still a creepy looking dude.
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi May 26, 2021 9:32PM ET
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not nearly as creepy as Trump's friend Epstein
Pat Mathieu
Pat Mathieu May 26, 2021 3:04AM ET
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What about Biden's international bribing scheme ? That's 100x worse than Banon's unproven accusations.
DX Ping
DX Ping May 26, 2021 2:22AM ET
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The justice systems with the *PARDON* privilege reflects the same as the Rulers/Military systems in the middle east
Randy Randy
randy00 May 25, 2021 6:08PM ET
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trump sure made a joke of the US justice system.
joe balone
joe balone May 25, 2021 6:08PM ET
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I don't think they needed help from him to be classified as a joke.
Mase Gumbo
Mase Gumbo May 25, 2021 4:26PM ET
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hmm so much for a party of justice...he clearly defrauded those donors...but these trump secophants here dont mind actual proven crime as usual..but invent fantasies that hold no water in court all the time...unbelievable stipidity
gary Gould
gary Gould May 25, 2021 4:26PM ET
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it's the American way .hahah..whenever can fill their pockets the fastest ...if ya got money and you are connected ..thier doesnt ever seem to be consequences...ya have to ask yourself why be honest and upstanding....as it means nothing nowadays
Al Gore
Al Gore May 25, 2021 4:10PM ET
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very good
danny Levine
danny Levine May 25, 2021 4:08PM ET
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good
 
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