Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Friday, Aug. 21, said his indictment for allegedly diverting funds raised in a donation campaign for the construction of a border wall was a “total political hit job.”
“I’m not going to back up one inch,” Bannon on an episode of his show “War Room.” “All these charges are nonsense. It’s a political hit job.”
On Thursday, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss charged Bannon and three others including operator Brian Kolfage with defrauding donors of hundreds of thousands of dollars “under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction.”
The indictment led to Bannon’s arrest on Thursday morning, he then pleaded not guilty in federal court in Manhattan and was released on a $5 million bond and took to the airwaves to defend himself.
“Everybody knows I love a fight,” Bannon said in the video. “I was called ‘honey badger’ for many years. You know, ‘Honey badger doesn’t give.’ So, I’m in this for the long haul. I’m in this for the fight.”
President Donald Trump in July criticized the project and believed that the wall must be a government project because “it’s far too complex to be handled privately,” according to White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, reported the Daily Caller.
“What he said yesterday was absolutely correct,” Bannon said of the president. “Building the wall is a function of government. But look how much trouble President Trump has had and what he had to fight against and not just the progressive Democrats but also people in his own party.”
Bannon defended Kolfage as “American hero” who dedicated his life for the country during the Afghan and Iraq war. He declared that the arrest is a baseless political ploy designed to stop people who want to talk about the wall and to halt the construction of the wall.
“This is to stop and intimidate people that have President Trump’s back on building the wall. We are never going to stop pushing the wall,” Bannon said.”This stuff is complete nonsense. I am not going to back down one inch.”
In June, Attorney General William Barr fired U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman after he refused to step down from his post. Barr initially said New Jersey Craig Carpenito would take the job but later backed off.
Berman said in a statement that he decided to step down “immediately” after Barr reversed course on a plan to appoint an outsider as his immediate replacement and instead agreed Berman’s deputy, Audrey Strauss, could take over the post.
Berman called Strauss the “smartest, most principled, and effective lawyer” he has ever worked with and said the office could be “in no better hands.”
The Southern District has prosecuted and investigated several associates of President Trump, including his personal lawyer Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani. Berman recused himself from directly overseeing the Cohen investigation for unclear reasons, according to Fox News.