Only one day after he was indicted on conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering charges, a video has surfaced showing former Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon joking with one of his alleged co-conspirators about stealing “all that money from ‘We Build The Wall,’” a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $25 million with the promise to erect a barrier on the southern border.
“Welcome back and this is Stephen K. Bannon. We’re off the coast of Saint-Tropez in southern France, in the Mediterranean. We’re on the million-dollar yacht of Brian Kolfage. Brian Kolfage—who took all that money from ‘We Build The Wall,” Bannon joked in the video, adding, “No, we’re actually in Sunland Park, New Mexico.”
Folks, this really happened. pic.twitter.com/EviEJCGvs7
— John Whitehouse (@existentialfish) August 21, 2020
Also on Friday, President Trump’s former campaign chief strategist railed against the charges during his podcast, calling them “a political hit job.”
“This fiasco is a total political hit job,” Bannon said, according to TPM.
“I’m in this for the long-haul. I’m in this for the fight,” Bannon continued, “I’m going to continue to fight.”
When asked about Bannon’s arrest on Thursday, Trump made sure to distance himself from the crowdfund and claimed he was against it when he first heard about it.
“I haven’t been dealing with [Bannon] at all. I know nothing about the project other than I didn’t like, when I read about it, I didn’t like it. I said, ‘This is for government, this isn’t for private people,’ and it sounded to me like showboating,” Trump said.
— PoliticsVideo23 (@politicsvideo23) August 21, 2020
Trump went on to say the situation is “sad,” adding again, “I feel very badly. I haven’t been dealing with him for a long period of time.”
However, according to a Friday report by CNN, Bannon has indeed been in touch with the president. One source told the network that “Bannon has boasted of his conversations with Trump” to friends as recently as a few months ago. And another source said the two were in contact just “weeks ago.”
Of course, Trump lies a lot, and he has lied on similar occasions when past aides have run afoul with the law. He tried to distance himself from Michael Cohen, claiming his longtime former fixer worked for him only “part-time.”
And although the also indicted Paul Manafort served as Trump’s campaign chairman in 2016, the president told Fox News in 2018, “I didn’t know Manafort well. He wasn’t with the campaign very long.”
Manafort worked for the Trump campaign starting in March of 2016 and was promoted to chairman in June, but was forced to resign in August of that year amid swarming legal issues and controversies regarding his past lobbying work for pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarchs, including more than $12 million in cash payments from a party controlled by Ukraine’s former leader.
Bannon’s arrest brings the count of the president’s associates from the White House or campaign who have been indicted to seven. Six others were charged in connection with the Mueller investigation.