On Thursday, former top Trump campaign official Steve Bannon, who also worked for the White House for awhile as an adviser to the president, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. The charges stemmed from an apparently fraudulent crowdfunding campaign called We Build The Wall, which, as its name suggests, operated under the pretext of collecting money for the construction of a southern border wall. That’s not where the money was going — in reality, it lined the pockets of Bannon and his co-conspirators. On Thursday, Trump called the charges against Bannon “sad,” but he tried to distance himself from the project — although even Donald Trump Jr. explicitly endorsed We Build The Wall at one point even appeared at a fundraiser for the effort.
Discussing “We Build The Wall,” Trump said:
‘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, and I think I let my opinion be very strongly stated at the time. I didn’t like it. It was showboating, and maybe looking for funds, but you’ll have to see what happens. I think it’s a very sad thing for Mr. Bannon. I think it’s surprising. But this was something, as you know, just by reading social media and by reading whatever it is and by speaking to Mike and Mike, and all of them, I didn’t like that project. I thought that was a project that was being done for showboating reasons. I don’t know that he was in charge. I didn’t know any of the other people either.’
Watch his comments in the video below:
Trump does actually know some of the people connected to the project. The project’s “General Counsel,” for instance, was listed on its website as Kris Kobach, a Trump ally and former Kansas Secretary of State who the president himself appointed to lead a now defunct federal commission meant to look into unfounded allegations of voter fraud.
Meanwhile, the group’s Advisory Board included members like former Sheriff David Clarke, who has even appeared with Trump on stage at a rally and at one point even claimed that he’d taken on a job in the Department of Homeland Security, although that never panned out.
Kris Kobach is the general counsel of the Build the Wall PAC that Steve Bannon was just arrested for being involved in as chairman. The advisory board includes Erik Prince, former CO congressman Tom Tancredo, Sheriff Dave Clarke and former pitcher Curt Schilling.
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) August 20, 2020
Meanwhile, as mentioned, Donald Trump Jr. himself has stumped for the We Build The Wall project. At a fundraiser, addressing project co-leader Brian Kolfage — who is one of those facing new federal criminal charges this week — Trump Jr. said:
‘Thank you so much for all your sacrifices, doing this, and really showing what capitalism is all about. This is private enterprise at its finest — doing it better, faster, cheaper than anything else, and what you guys are doing is pretty amazing. It started as a grassroots effort, and it’s just doing some wonderful things, for an important issue.’
Donald Trump Jr. praised We Build The Wall and Brian Kolfage at a 2018 event: "This is private enterprise at its finest. Doing it better, faster, cheaper than anything else. What you guys are doing is amazing.” pic.twitter.com/hOL25JoZPI
— andrew kaczynski🤔 (@KFILE) August 20, 2020
In other words — Trump doesn’t appear as though he’s going to be actually able to escape connections to this debacle anytime soon.