Steve Bannon Cares About as Much About Building a Border Wall as I Do

·4 min read
Photo credit: ALEX KENT - Getty Images
Photo credit: ALEX KENT - Getty Images

It may well have been lost amid the semi-respectful frenzy of a royal departure from this earthly plane, and even amid the absolute avalanche of court activity around the former president of the United States. But that latter guy's former chief White House strategist and the chief executive of his first presidential campaign was perp-walked through a New York courthouse in handcuffs on Thursday. Steve Bannon has been charged by the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, with two counts of money laundering, a count of scheme to defraud, and two counts of conspiracy. He stands accused of defrauding American citizens who so desperately wanted a wall on the southern border that they were willing to donate to an organization called We Build the Wall, Inc. to see it done.

Once upon a time, you may remember, Mexico was going to pay for the wall. Mr. Donald Trump said so, and the man's word is bond. He was foiled, we can only assume, by the pesky Deep State, just like he was foiled by Congress after he scrapped the promise to force our southern neighbors to pay for it and asked for some taxpayer cash. The Legislative Branch declined to exercise its power of the purse to fund this boondoggle, so Trump responded by declaring a phony national emergency as a pretext to seize the money in an outright assault on the Constitution's separation of powers. He also at one point shut the government down. But all of this did not see much wall built by 2019, when We Build the Wall was founded to finance the project with private funds.

Both Bannon and the group's figurehead, Brian Kolfage, are accused of pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars raised by the group and related nonprofits. Actually, this is their second time getting accused: The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York charged Bannon, Kolfage, and two other men for their activities related to We Build the Wall back in 2020. Kolfage and another defendant pleaded guilty, and are named as un-indicted co-conspirators in this indictment. But on his way out of office, Trump pardoned Bannon before the case went to trial. This was one of many pardons Trump handed out to his cronies, but he no longer has that power and it doesn't apply to state charges anyway.

Above all of that, though, Bannon's alleged scheme is emblematic of what this whole movement represents: preying on people's fear of The Other for your own personal gain. The Wall was a potent vehicle for the MAGA message that Real America, the true and rightful citizens of the United States, had to build a citadel to protect themselves from the unruly hordes outside the castle walls. Donald Trump doesn't care about illegal immigrants. He hires them. And Steve Bannon doesn't give a flyer about building the Big, Beautiful Wall. This was a crew of moral degenerates who could work a crowd, convincing people they were on their side. I mean, look at this New York Times breakdown of the three other principals charged by the feds in the We Build the Wall fiasco:

Brian Kolfage, a decorated Iraq War veteran and motivational speaker, had created a string of pro-Trump websites using bogus stories to draw clicks and sell ads. Timothy Shea sold a Trump-themed energy drink he marketed as containing “liberal tears.” Andrew Badolato had a trail of failed businesses, unpaid tax bills and sexual misconduct allegations.

Even in the perp-walk video above, Bannon continues to run the playbook, casting his legal peril as a political prosecution. Except he's charged with ripping off members of his own movement! The shamelessness.

And it might just work, at least in the court of public opinion. Millions of our fellow citizens responded to this stuff over the last half-decade, shoveling money at the people selling it. In the case of Trump and Bannon, it's the alliance of a phony New York business genius and a former investment banker-slash-Hollywood producer, who both claim to be populist champions of the Everyman. Trump used to brag his campaign would be self-funded, and he hasn't stopped asking for money since. He may, without exaggeration, have sent more emails asking for money than any politician who's ever lived. That includes appeals to fund his post-election campaign to "Save America." The nation itself was being stolen away from him and his followers, you see. By the way, the Save America PAC is also under investigation. One worries the money may not actually have gone toward saving America. It's probably a matter of time until his fans start to proclaim they knew they were getting scammed all along, and they liked it.

You Might Also Like