Trump Admin And Camp Continue Distancing Themselves From Bannon’s Border Wall Scheme

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 21: Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf speaks during a press conference on the actions taken by Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security agents in Portland during continued protests at the US Customs and Border Patrol headquarters on July 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Chad Wolf
Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf speaks during a press conference at the US Customs and Border Patrol headquarters on July 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
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August 23, 2020 5:24 p.m.

Acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf and Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller on Sunday distanced themselves from former Trump campaign chairman Steve Bannon’s alleged money laundering scheme in the “We Build The Wall” project that led to his indictment by Manhattan prosecutors on fraud charges.

During Sunday morning interviews, both Wolf and Miller appeared to take a cue from President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in claiming ignorance of Bannon’s border wall scheme.

On Thursday, Trump claimed that he hasn’t “been dealing with” his former campaign manager “at all” — invoking his typical reaction to news of an associate getting caught in alleged criminal activity — despite how several people in Trump’s inner circle previously embraced the private border-wall gambit and its founder, Brian Kolfage, who was also indicted over the scheme. The President’s remarks came a month after he first claimed no involvement in “We Build the Wall” in a tweet.

Similarly, Pence told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo that he wants “to allow Steve Bannon to have his day in court,” a day after Trump doubled down on denying his involvement in Bannon’s border wall scheme.

“I don’t know any more about that than what I’ve read in the paper,” Pence said on Fox Business. “What I do know is that President Trump denounced that effort months and months ago.”

Here’s what Wolf and Miller had to say:

Acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf

During an interview on CNN on Sunday, Wolf was pressed on his praise of Bannon’s border wall scheme last year, which he called a “game-changer” that he “welcomed” as “part of the solution,” and whether he now regrets his public support of it.

“No,” Wolf said. “Again, I think you hit it on the head, which is I said, and I’ll continue to say, I welcome all that want to be part of the solution. I did not specifically endorse this particular organization or what they are doing.”

CNN’s Jake Tapper then mentioned how Wolf made an unannounced visit to El Paso to survey the project. Wolf defended the move by claiming that it was simply part of his first trip to the border as acting DHS secretary and that he was trying “to get a sense of everything” in the area.

Wolf went on to reiterate that he “welcomes all that want to be a part of the solution on that Southwest border” and that he did not endorse any particular group, before Tapper asked whether he welcomes the support of “scam artists who want to be part of the solution.”

Wolf repeatedly replied “absolutely not” before arguing that “none of this had come out” when he made his remark last year praising “We Build the Wall.”

“I don’t have anything to do with the Department of Justice indictment or anything to do with that. So, I’m going to let that play out in the courts,” Wolf said, before once again insisting that he “obviously” does not endorse any type of fraud.

 

Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller

When asked about whether he’s been interviewed by the Justice Department regarding Bannon’s bombshell indictment — given how he collaborated with the former Trump campaign chairman on a podcast — during an interview on “Meet the Press,” Miller denied that he has and added that “it looks like this investigation was going along before the podcast even started.”

Miller conceded that the damning allegations against Bannon are “very serious” and that he hopes “Steve has some good answers for the things that he’s been accused of.”

“It’s not something that I worked on,” Miller said. “I don’t know anything about the financial dealings of this organization or how it worked, and I hope Steve has the opportunity to tell his side of the story.”

Miller went on to hit back at the notion that the President surrounds himself with people who have “shady instincts” after “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd pointed out that people who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign have had run ins with the law, which include: Bannon, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Cohen and Roger Stone.

“I disagree on that,” Miller said, before offering his glowing praise of President Trump for supposedly surrounding himself with “brilliant” people and having a “very good track record of hiring excellent people.”

Although he agreed that some of Trump’s associates have committed “serious mistakes” that they will have to be held accountable for, Miller went back to praising White House officials such as Mark Meadows, Kellyanne Conway, Ja’Ron Smith and Stephen Miller.

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