Bannon trial in ‘We Build the Wall’ scheme expected November 2023
Former President Trump’s longtime ally Stephen Bannon will likely stand trial in November of next year for his alleged role in defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors who gave money to build a wall at the southern border, a New York judge said Tuesday.
After a federal case against him for his role in the online crowdfunding campaign was halted by a pardon from Trump, Manhattan prosecutors brought state-level charges against Bannon, who pleaded not guilty.
Judge Juan Manuel Merchan said on Tuesday that he expects Bannon’s trial will be set for November 2023.
The “We Build the Wall” orchestrators told donors their contributions would go exclusively to the construction of a wall at the border with Mexico, a pillar of the former president’s immigration platform.
They specifically claimed that none of the money would fund the group president’s salary, but prosecutors allege more than a quarter million went to paying it.
The Florida-based effort raked in more than $15 million, and prosecutors allege hundreds of thousands of dollars were diverted elsewhere.
“As alleged, Stephen Bannon acted as the architect of a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud thousands of donors across the country – including hundreds of Manhattan residents,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Jr. said in a joint release with New York Attorney General Letitia James announcing the indictment last month.
James last month announced a civil lawsuit against Trump, three of his adult children and the New York-based Trump Organization, alleging the former president’s company misrepresented asset values for financial gain.
The projected November 2023 date for Bannon’s trial could mean it happens around the same time as Trump’s trial in James’s lawsuit.
The schedule would also mean both trials take place a year ahead of the 2024 presidential election, in which Trump may make a bid.
Bannon and the not-for-profit corporation have been charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with two counts of money laundering and additional counts of scheme to defraud and conspiracy, according to the attorney’s office.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.