Legal experts expect aggressive state prosecutions of Steve Bannon: report

Legal experts expect aggressive state prosecutions of Steve Bannon: report

On Tuesday, January 19 — his last full day in office — former President Donald Trump pardoned Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist and ex-chairman of Breitbart News. But a president's ability to grant pardons only exists at the federal level, and in an article published by Law & Crime, reporter Aaron Keller examines what legal experts have to say about the possibility of Bannon facing criminal prosecutions in individual states.

Bannon was slapped with federal fraud charges in connection with the "We Build the Wall" crowdfunding campaign. According to federal prosecutors for the Southern District of New York, much of the money that Bannon and his associates brought in wasn't used on a U.S./Mexico border wall as promised, but rather, on personal expenses. However, the federal charges that Bannon was facing were wiped out when Trump pardoned him the day before President Joe Biden was sworn into office.

CNN legal analyst Elie Honig, Keller notes, was highly critical of the pardon, saying that Bannon was "essentially ripping off donors" to the We Build the Wall campaign. And Honig wondered why three Bannon associates who were also charged in the case — Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea — were not pardoned by Trump as well. Bannon, Kolfage, Badolato and Shea were all charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Occupy Democrats' Grant Stern reports that state prosecutors in Florida have been conducting a "criminal investigation" of Bannon:

Conservative attorney George Conway, one of Trump's most vehement critics on the right, tweeted:

According to former Department of Justice attorney Michael Zeldin:

Legal experts have been debating whether or not it constitutes double jeopardy if someone is prosecuted at the state level after being pardoned or acquitted at the federal level. But New York State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat and former federal prosecutor, sees no reason why Bannon shouldn't be prosecuted in his state.

Keller quotes Kaminsky as saying, "Corrupt pardon power ends at the New York border. Thanks to legislation I authored and passed into law in 2019 that closed the 'double jeopardy loophole,' New York prosecutors can still pursue charges against Steve Bannon. Our law was specifically designed to address and prevent corrupt, politically-motivated pardons — just like this — to ensure that no one is above the law."

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