Former White House adviser Steve Bannon was arrested Thursday on charges that he was part of a plan to defraud donors to an online fundraising campaign called “We Build The Wall.”
Bannon, along with Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea, “received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donor funds from We Build The Wall, which they each used in a manner inconsistent with the organization’s public representations” and allegedly “orchestrated a scheme to defraud hundreds of thousands of donors,” according to prosecutors in papers filed in federal court.
The charges were in connection to an online crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $25 million to build a wall along the southern border of the United States.
Bannon, 66, is set to appear in court in New York virtually on Thursday.
Who is Steve Bannon? Here’s what we know about the former executive chairman of Breitbart News who once served as chief strategist for President Donald Trump.
Who is Bannon?
- Bannon has been a lightning rod for controversy since he joined Trump’s campaign in August 2016 as a campaign CEO.
- Bannon, a former U.S. Navy officer and a graduate of Harvard Business School, worked for Goldman Sachs, launched his own investment company, produced films and invested in the television series “Seinfeld” when the show needed help getting started.
- Bannon was a founder of the right-wing site Breitbart News and became executive chair of the company when Andrew Breitbart died in March 2012.
- Bannon said in an interview with Mother Earth: “We’re the platform for the alt-right,” or “alternative right,” a movement that espouses views far to the right of traditional conservative ideas in the United States. The Southern Poverty Law Center has warned that Bannon is the “main driver behind Breitbart becoming a white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill.”
- Bannon is the founding chairman of the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), a nonprofit that investigates politicians and delivers findings to mainstream media outlets, like Newsweek and ABC News, according to Bloomberg.
- In August 2016, Bannon became the executive director of Trump’s campaign.
- Shortly after his election on Nov. 8, 2016, Trump named Bannon, the former Breitbart News executive chairman, to be his “chief strategist and senior counselor.”
- In February 2017, Bannon was elevated to regular membership on the “principals committee” of the National Security Council. That appointment was roundly criticized because as he was appointed to attend the meetings, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence were no longer included as regular members of the committee.
- In April 2017, Bannon was removed from the committee, and the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence were put back in as permanent members.
- He was seen as an important force behind Trump’s decision to impose a travel ban on immigration from Muslim-majority countries. He is also thought to have been instrumental in Trump’s decisions to remove the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change.
- Bannon did not get along with some of Trump’s other top advisers. On Aug. 16, 2017, The American Prospect published remarks made by Bannon to the coeditor of the publication that attacked other advisers and slammed Trump’s warning to North Korea’s leaders over their pursuit of nuclear weapons.
- On Aug. 18, 2017, it was announced by the then-White House press secretary Sarah Sanders that it was Bannon’s last day at the White House.
- Bannon went back to Breitbart and said he intended to work to oust established congressional leaders. He backed Judge Roy Moore in his run for the U.S. Senate. Moore lost after allegations of sexual assault were lodged against him.
- While it was believed that Bannon still liked Trump and had conversations with him, Bannon slammed the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer during the 2016 presidential campaign as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”
- Bannon has been hosting a pro-Trump podcast called “War Room” that began during the president’s impeachment proceedings and has continued during the pandemic.