Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon arrested for defrauding 'Build The Wall' donors

Bannon and three others were arrested Thursday morning in the Justice Department case

Updated: August 21, 2020 - 7:48am

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Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was arrested Thursday morning for allegedly defrauding contributors in a crowdfunding campaign called "We Build The Wall." 

The campaign has raised more than $25 million under the pretense that the funds would be spent on construction of the U.S. southern border wall. 

Others charged in connection in the Justice Department case are Brian Kolfage, an Iraq war veteran and public face of the campaign, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shea. All four defendants were arrested Thursday morning. 

“While repeatedly assuring donors that Brian Kolfage, the founder and public face of We Build the Wall, would not be paid a cent, the defendants secretly schemed to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage, which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle,” said Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

According to the release by the Justice Department, the United States Postal Inspection Service assisted in their investigation of the four men. 

"This case should serve as a warning to other fraudsters that no one is above the law, not even a disabled war veteran or a millionaire political strategist," said Inspector-in-Charge Philip Bartlett.

The president briefly addressed his former advisor's arrest during a meeting with the Iraqi prime minister at the White House this morning. "I feel very badly. I haven't been dealing with him for a very long period of time. Haven't been dealing with him at all. Don't know anything about the project at all. It's a very sad thing by Mr. Bannon. I don't like that project. I thought it was being done for showboating reasons. It was something I very much thought was inappropriate to be doing," said POTUS, referring to the Build The Wall crowdfunding campaign. 

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany released a statement on the indictment as well, "As everyone knows, President Trump has no involvement in this project and felt it was only being done in order to showboat, and perhaps raise funds ... The Trump Administration has already built over 300 miles of Border Wall, thanks to the great work of our Army Corps of Engineers, and will have almost 500 miles completed by the end of the year.  Our southern border is more secure than it has ever been. President Trump has not been involved with Steve Bannon since the campaign and the early part of the Administration, and he does not know the people involved with this project."