Feds: Bannon’s pardon blocks prosecution, but not indictment
New York – The indictment lodging fraud charges against ex-President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon should not be dismissed despite his pardon, prosecutors told a judge Thursday, citing ill effects an indictment can leave on someone even without a conviction.
Prosecutors said Bannon’s lawyer had quietly slipped an email to the judge making the request to dismiss an indictment charging him with defrauding thousands of donors who believed their money would be used to fulfill Trump’s chief campaign promise to build a wall along the southern border.
Instead, over a million dollars of the $25 million raised for the “We Build The Wall” campaign was diverted to pay a salary to one campaign official and personal expenses for himself, the indictment alleged. His three co-defendants were not pardoned and face trial later this year.
Prosecutors said the pardon Trump gave Bannon on his way out of office last month does not eliminate probable cause of guilt or undercut evidence of his involvement in crimes.
And to dismiss it, they argued, “could have a broader effect than the pardon itself, among other things potentially relieving Bannon of certain consequences not covered by the pardon.”
They said he can be terminated from the case and his bail can be returned, but other effects of an indictment against him should remain in place.
Prosecutors cited possible “consequences” of an indictment on the books, including a past instance when a commodity broker’s application was denied and an instance in which a pardon did not preclude the government from considering the charged conduct in evaluating permit applications.
Defense lawyers made their request on Feb. 18 in a letter that was emailed to U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres, who is presiding over the case.
Prosecutors urged the judge to order the lawyers to publicly file the letter, which they said requested dismissal of the indictment against Bannon because “in his view, ‘Bannon should no longer be a defendant in the case.’”
“A letter motion such as Bannon’s implicates the First Amendment right of access,” prosecutors said.
A message seeking comment was sent to Bannon’s attorney.