Steve Bannon co-defendant in border wall scam case fumes over being called ‘fraudster’
New York — The founder of the We Build the Wall charity is outraged by the feds’ description of him as a “fraudster” who used charitable donations for a “lavish lifestyle.”
An attorney for Brian Kolfage said Monday that the comments, contained in a news release announcing the indictment of him, former White House adviser Steve Bannon and two others, were “inappropriate.”
“We can’t have a situation where the government takes shots, calling my client a fraudster and saying he’s living this lavish lifestyle,” attorney Harvey Steinberg said in a telephonic Manhattan Federal Court hearing.
Prosecutors expressed concern last week about Kolfage’s frequent Facebook posts describing the case as “a witch hunt.”
“What troubles the government are statements on social media intended to be broadcast to victims and donors,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe said.
The prosecutor added that the terms that infuriated Kolfage were contained in a “standard” press release announcing the case. Kolfage, Bannon, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea have all pleaded not guilty to spending more than $1 million in We Build the Wall donations on themselves. Kolfage’s charity raised more than $25 million to privately fund President Donald Trump’s signature policy of a border wall along the Mexico border.
Judge Analisa Torres set a trial date of May 24, 2020, and warned all four defendants about a rule limiting public statements they can make about the case.
Kolfage, a triple-amputee Air Force veteran, is charged with spending about $350,000 in donations on cosmetic surgery, home renovations, payments toward a boat, a luxury SUV, a golf cart, jewelry, credit card debt and other personal expenses.
Bannon, who played a critical role on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and was booted from the White House the following year, allegedly spent hundreds of thousands in donations on personal expenses.
Hours before the hearing, Kolfage kept posting on Facebook.
“These guys at the (Southern District of New York) are a big whopping embarrassment to our ENTIRE judicial system. I raised my right hand to defend this nation from enemy’s foreign & domestic and you won’t silence me. This is a 100% political hit job! MARK MY WORDS! I’m a fighter and I’ll never stop fighting against injustice. I WILL NOT BE A POLITICAL PRISONER!” he wrote.