Speed Reads

Single Jeopardy

Steve Bannon will reportedly surrender to face New York criminal charges sidestepping Trump pardon

A New York grand jury in Manhattan has indicted Steve Bannon, one-time chief strategist for former President Donald Trump, and he is expected to surrender to prosecutors on Thursday, The Washington Post and The Associated Press report. "The precise details of the state case could not be confirmed Tuesday evening," the Post adds, but the criminal charges will likely mirror federal fraud charges Bannon faced in 2020, before Trump pardoned him right before leaving office. Presidential pardons don't cover state charges.

Trump pardoned Bannon for his involvement in a private U.S.-Mexico border wall endeavor called "Build the Wall," before Bannon went to trial for allegedly defrauding investors of $25 million. Trump did not grant clemency to Bannon's three co-defendants. Two of them pleaded guilty to the federal fraud charges in April, and the trial of a fourth co-defendant, Timothy Shea, was declared a mistrial in June after the jury deadlocked. 

The Manhattan district attorney's office has been considering filing a similar fraud case against Bannon for more than a year, but prosecutors waited until the federal cases wrapped up before deciding whether to charge him, CNN reports.

Bannon, who is scheduled to be sentenced in October for his July federal contempt of Congress conviction, said in a statement that District Attorney Alvin Bragg has "decided to pursue phony charges against me 60 days before the midterm election." Federal prosecutors "did the exact same thing in August 2020 to try to take me out of the election," he added. "It didn't work then, it certainly won't work now." His statement did not mention Trump's pardon. 

The previous Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, tried to prosecute a different Trump campaign official, Paul Manafort, in 2019 on charges similar to a federal mortgage fraud case. But a state judge threw out Vance's case on double-jeopardy grounds, after Manafort was convicted on the federal charges and before Trump gave him a pardon.

Bannon won't be similarly protected because he was pardoned before his case went to trial, AP reports, and because "while Manafort's New York case was pending, New York eased its double jeopardy protections, ensuring that state-level prosecutors could pursue charges against anyone granted a presidential pardon for similar federal crimes."