The former top adviser to Trump's presidential campaign who later served as White House chief strategist was arrested in Connecticut by agents from the prosecutor's office and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service aboard a 150-foot-long (45-meter-long) yacht, according to a law enforcement source. That yacht, called the Lady May, is owned by Chinese fugitive billionaire Guo Wengui, with whom Bannon has had a working relationship.
Bannon wore a protective white mask amid the coronavirus pandemic and two open-collared shirts at a federal court in Manhattan, where his lawyer entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf. He was freed on $5 million bond and was barred by a federal magistrate judge from traveling internationally.
Bannon, 66, was among four people arrested and charged by federal prosecutors in Manhattan with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. They each face up to 40 years in prison if convicted, but likely would get much shorter sentences.
Prosecutors accused the defendants of defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors through a $25 million crowdfunding campaign called "We Build the Wall." Bannon used hundreds of thousands of dollars of that money to cover personal expenses, according to the charges.
Bannon helped articulate the "America First" right-wing populism and fierce opposition to immigration that have been hallmarks of Trump's 3-1/2 years in office. Trump fired Bannon from his White House post in August 2017.
The famously disheveled entrepreneur headed the right-wing Breitbart News website - a voice for the alt-right movement that spans hardcore nationalists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and anti-Semites - before joining Trump's campaign. Bannon, an anti-globalist, has since promoted a variety of right-wing causes and candidates in the United States and abroad.
Trump told reporters at the White House that he feels "very badly" about the charges but sought to distance himself from Bannon and the alleged scheme.
"I do think it's a sad event," Trump said. "I haven't dealt with him at all now for years, literally years."
Trump said he knew little about the project. But one of those involved, former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, said in 2019 that Trump had offered his support, according to the New York Times.
- Let's go guys.
- Get inside the car, get inside the car.
- Steven, we support you.
- Yo, get the guy in front.