A federal judge reportedly dismissed an indictment charging Steve Bannon — who served as former President Trump’s White House chief strategist and was granted a last-minute pardon by Trump — with defrauding pro-Trump We Build the Wall donors on Tuesday, according to The New York Daily News and Washington Post.
Citing other examples that were dismissed after presidential pardons, U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres reportedly wrote in a seven-page ruling that Trump’s pardon was valid and therefore the “dismissal of the Indictment is the proper course.”
However, Torres also noted that a presidential pardon implies guilt.
“Pardon implies guilt. If there be no guilt, there is no ground for forgiveness. It is an appeal to executive clemency. It is asked as a matter of favor to the guilty. It is granted not of right but of grace. A party is acquitted on the ground of innocence; he is pardoned through favor,” the court wrote, according to the Daily News.
Bannon was previously one of four people charged in the federal criminal case over “We Build The Wall,” the GoFundMe-powered private border wall project that prosecutors have described as a massive fundraising scam.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Bannon and three others secretly siphoned money out of the project, defrauding thousands of donors. Bannon allegedly received more than $1 million in We Build The Wall donor money.
All of the federal defendants in the We Build The Wall cases pleaded not guilty, including Bannon, a few months before the former White House chief strategist was granted a pardon by Trump.
The Post noted that it is unclear whether the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, which brought the case, plans to appeal the federal judge’s ruling.
Bannon’s attorney Robert Costello praised Torres’ ruling in a statement shared with the Post.
“The judge clearly reached the right result,” Bannon’s attorney Robert Costello said in a statement. “An unconditional pardon should always result in the dismissal of the indictment. Finality should result in finality.”
Bannon was included in Trump’s last-minute clemency blitz, which granted presidential relief to dozens of people, including politicians accused of public corruption, Trump insiders, and several Blackwater contractors prosecuted for killing unarmed Iraqi civilians in the 2007 Nisour Square massacre.
Torres’ ruling resolved a dispute between prosecutors and Bannon over how much weight his presidential pardon holds.
Bannon’s three co-defendants, who did not receive pardons from Trump, are set to stand trial.