Bannon pleads not guilty at initial court appearance

Stephen Bannon pleaded not guilty at an initial court appearance Thursday following conspiracy charges related to an alleged scheme to launder money from a fundraising organization aimed at building a privately funded wall along the southern border.

A federal magistrate judge agreed to release him on a $5 million bond with certain travel restrictions.

The former top White House adviser is accused of assisting in a scheme to funnel money from the nonprofit We Build The Wall to cover his own personal expenses and to pay an undisclosed salary to the campaign's founder, Brian Kolfage.

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We Build The Wall has raised more than $25 million in its crowdfunding campaign and has begun construction on private land.

Bannon can choose to change his plea as his case proceeds.

Thursday's courtĀ appearance was made during a hearing conducted over videoconference due to coronavirus safety measures.

Prosecutors said during the hearing that Bannon had been arrested around 7:15 a.m. Thursday on a yacht off the coast of Connecticut.

An initial pretrial hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 31.