Ex-White House adviser Steve Bannon pleads not guilty in border wall scheme

Politics

NEW YORK (NewsNation) — Steve Bannon, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in relation to a fundraising campaign to support the building of a U.S.-Mexico border wall, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

The federal agency also confirmed that Bannon is facing one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering for activities related to the “We Build The Wall” online fundraising campaign.

Hours after his arrest, Bannon pleaded not guilty during an appearance in a Manhattan federal court. The charges were contained in an indictment unsealed in the Manhattan federal court.

Federal prosecutors alleged that Bannon and three others “orchestrated a scheme to defraud hundreds of thousands of donors” in connection with the crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $25 million to build a wall along the southern border of the United States.

A phone at the office of Bannon’s lawyer went unanswered Thursday morning. A spokeswoman for Bannon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he feels “very badly” about Bannon’s arrest.

“I do think it’s a sad event,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “I haven’t dealt with him at all now for years, literally years.”

The president denied knowing about the fundraising organization involved in the criminal case.

“I know nothing about the project other than I didn’t like, when I read about it, I didn’t like it. I said, ‘This is for government, this isn’t for private people,’ and it sounded to me like showboating,” Trump said.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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