Steve Bannon, who previously served as a key strategist to then-President Donald Trump, surrendered to authorities in Manhattan on Thursday following his indictment on charges that he defrauded donors to an organization pledging to construct a wall at the southern border with Mexico, as the New York Post reported.
According to New York prosecutors, the allegations against Bannon stem from his involvement in a "We Build the Wall" nonprofit group that ultimately secured millions in donations from those wishing to help bolster border security – an endeavor from which the state now claims he siphoned funds for his own use, as CBS News notes.
The formal charges on which Bannon now stands as a defendant include two counts of second-degree money laundering and fourth-degree conspiracy, as well as single counts of conspiracy in the fourth degree, conspiracy in the fifth degree, and scheme to defraud.
In a made-for-tv spectacle clearly designed to inflict maximum reputational damage to him – and, by extension, Trump – Bannon was walked into the courtroom in handcuffs, where he ultimately pleaded not guilty to all counts via his lawyer.
As the Daily Caller reported, Bannon did not hold back when commenting on the proceedings, telling reporters, "For every conservative American, this is what happens in the last days of a dying regime," and vowing, [t]hey will never shut me up, they'll have to kill me first. I have not yet begun to fight."
Commenting on the charges, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg declared, "The simple truth is it is a crime to profit off of donors," and New York Attorney General Letitia James argued that Bannon used his high-profile connections to "cheat everyday Americans."
"Steve Bannon stands out as a perfect example of this blatant inequality," accusing him of defrauding donors to the tune of roughly $15 million.
CBS News noted that as a condition of his release, the close Trump adviser was forced to surrender his passport, something prosecutors claimed was necessary because he "has means to flee the country and a history of" breaking the law – an apparent reference to his conviction earlier this year on contempt of Congress charges for refusing to comply with a Jan. 6-related subpoena.
Bannon continues to contend that these latest efforts to sink him are a transparent attempt to influence political outcomes in November, saying, "the Soros-backed DA has now decided to pursue phony charges against me 60 days before the midterm election," also suggesting that his popular podcast program War Room is "the major source of the MAGA grassroots movement," and that is something which strikes fear in the hearts of leftists everywhere.