Reports: Manhattan Investigators Weighing Charges Against Bannon After Trump Pardon

Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon exits the Manhattan Federal Court on August 20, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

Former Donald Trump campaign chairman Steve Bannon got a last-minute pardon from his boss as Trump left the White House, but that doesn’t mean he’s in the clear. 

State investigators in Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s Office are in “early-stage discussions” into whether a state-level criminal case can be brought against Bannon in New York, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. The Post cited unnamed people familiar with the matter. 

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. 

Federal prosecutors alleged that Bannon and three others — who did not receive presidential pardons and still face trial this year — 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 his pardon. 

The New York Times subsequently also reported Tuesday night that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office had begun investigating Bannon’s role in We Build The Wall. Prosecutors in Vance’s office have sought records and requested an interview with at least one potential witness, the paper reported, citing two unnamed people familiar with the investigation.

Noting that the talks within Vance’s office were “preliminary,” the Post reported that state investigators were exploring whether the same criminal conduct alleged against Bannon federally could be charged in state court. 

The paper noted that residents of the federal Southern District of New York were among the We Build The Wall donors that Bannon allegedly defrauded. That district includes Manhattan. Banking transactions routed through New York City also frequently give Manhattan investigators jurisdiction for investigations, the Post reported. 

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.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

TPM Staff
Latest News
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: