Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) called attention this week to some of the rampant political and financial corruption in which former President Donald Trump and some of his top allies, including Steve Bannon, have been involved.
Bannon was indicted late this year for a second time over his involvement in a crowdfunding effort ostensibly soliciting donations in support of Trump’s long sought wall along the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Bannon personally communicated that donor money would supposedly only support the wall construction efforts, but millions actually went towards personal expenses of Bannon and other individuals leading the campaign. Through another company he led through which payments cycled, Bannon also helped conceal the flow of some of the funds. A total of four men, including Bannon, were originally indicted at the federal level for fraud allegations connected to the scandal. Trump pardoned Bannon but not the others before he left office, but presidential pardons only apply at the federal level. Bannon has since been indicted in New York in a case his defense predictably tied to politics.
“Trump runs for president on a promise that Mexico will pay for a wall,” Schiff remarked Monday on Twitter. “Of course, Mexico doesn’t. So his cronies raise money to pay for the wall. Then steal it. And he pardons them for stealing from his own people. He’s never been more than a grifter. Now we learn he charged the Secret Service exorbitant rates to stay at his hotels. Whether it was misusing money from his “charity,” bilking students at his “university,” or raising millions from contributors under false pretenses, the grift took many forms. And it goes on.”
Timothy Shea, another man involved in the crowdfunding scheme, also leaned on a shell company that received money from the fundraising effort. The campaign ended up bringing in over $25 million — and nearly $1 million of that total went just towards Bannon’s personal costs. Shea and the other two men involved alongside Bannon also received totals in the hundreds of thousands each. Bannon is also imminently facing sentencing after a conviction at trial of contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with the House committee investigating the Capitol riot. Prosecutors pushed for six months in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, with Bannon having evidently claimed he could pay. Bannon’s defense, meanwhile, sought probation and a halt to any sentence pending the appeals process. He leaned on executive privilege arguments, although his usage of such claims was limited at trial, but it’s unclear Trump ever even made specific executive privilege claims covering Bannon’s testimony, per a Trump lawyer’s revelations.
Now we learn he charged the Secret Service exorbitant rates to stay at his hotels.
Whether it was misusing money from his “charity,” bilking students at his “university,” or raising millions from contributors under false pretenses, the grift took many forms.
And it goes on.
— Adam Schiff (@AdamSchiff) October 17, 2022