Former Donald Trump campaign strategist Steve Bannon will go on trial in New York next May on state charges that he defrauded contributors to a fund to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.
(Bloomberg) — Former Donald Trump campaign strategist Steve Bannon will go on trial in New York next May on state charges that he defrauded contributors to a fund to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.
Bannon’s criminal trial will follow that of the former president, on unrelated charges, in quick succession and in the run-up to next year’s presidential election, in which Trump is seeking to regain the White House.
At a brief hearing on Thursday, New York State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan in Manhattan set the trial for May 27, 2024. But after the judge was notified that was a US holiday, the trial was rescheduled to start the following day — May 28, 2024.
Merchan is also presiding over Trump’s hush-money payments case, in which the former president has pleaded not guilty. That trial is scheduled to begin on March 25.
Bannon faces money-laundering, fraud and conspiracy charges for allegedly bilking thousands of contributors to the privately funded border wall project out of more than $15 million. The project, We Build the Wall, funded about about five miles (eight kilometers) of border fencing in two locations in Texas and New Mexico.
Bannon has pleaded not guilty. Trump pardoned him in a related federal case.
Read More: Bannon Battles It Out in Border Wall Case — With His Own Lawyers
The hearing came a day after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis entered the 2024 presidential race in which Trump is the current front-runner for the Republican nomination. As Bannon left the courthouse he was asked which GOP candidate he favored.
“I have already endorsed President Trump,” he said.
Read More: DeSantis Joins 2024 Presidential Race Leaning on Culture Wars
The case has its roots in Trump’s signature 2016 campaign issue on border security. Bannon’s project launched a GoFundMe campaign in 2018 promising to help Trump fulfill his promise of building a barrier running the length of the border, which was never achieved. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and New York Attorney General Letitia James allege that Bannon stole millions of dollars from the project for his own use.
Bannon and three others were charged by federal prosecutors in 2020 with defrauding donors by claiming the group was run by volunteers. Trump pardoned Bannon on his last day in office. Two of the other three pleaded guilty, and one was convicted at trial.
In the case against Trump, the former president was indicted in March by a state grand jury on 34 counts of falsifying business records related to payments to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about a sexual encounter she says they had a decade earlier. Trump denies the encounter and says Bragg’s prosecution, like the other cases and probes he faces, is a partisan effort to undermine his candidacy.
The case is New York v. Bannon, 23554-22, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).
–With assistance from Greg Farrell.
(Updates with date change on trial in third paragraph.)
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