Ally to former President Donald Trump Stephen Bannon on Thursday pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering and conspiracy for allegedly misleading donors who gave money to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, The Associated Press reports.
Per the indictment, New York prosecutors have accused Bannon of promising donors — who handed over more than $15 million to the private fundraiser "We Build the Wall" — that their money would go toward the border project, while concealing "his role in diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars to the drive's chief executive, who had promised to take no salary," Reuters summarizes.
Trump had previously pardoned Bannon for "the same alleged conduct" central to an August 2020 federal prosecution, AP writes, but presidential pardons don't apply to state offenses — and Manhattan prosecutors later decided to go after Bannon anyway, considering the purported scheme affected hundreds of Manhattanites. Bannon pleaded not guilty in the original case. The aforementioned chief executive, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud conspiracy and tax charges back in April; he has yet to be sentenced, per Politico and Reuters.
Bannon has condemned the new charges, which he related back to the midterm elections in November. "I've got news for them," Bannon told reporters after being released without bail. "We are going to win a sweeping landslide at every level, from school boards to election officials ... We are not going to back down and they will not be able to shut me up," per Reuters.