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Crime The Trump Adminstration

Steve Bannon’s Legal Problems Have Gone From Bad To Worse

When Donald Trump handed him a presidential pardon in the final days of the Trump administration, Steve Bannon probably thought he was in the clear legally and could stop worrying about being sent to prison.

But Bannon was very wrong.

 

The Washington Post reports that federal prosecutors are refusing to erase his indictment for fraud:

“The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, which is preparing for trial against three of Bannon’s co-defendants in an alleged border wall fundraising scam, is seeking an ‘administrative’ termination of Bannon’s case, which would halt the prosecution against him for good but would not clear his name from the docket. The case would officially remain pending while the others, who were not pardoned by Trump before he left office in January, await trial.”

That’s not the only legal jeopardy Bannon finds himself in, as Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is also considering whether or not he’ll seek an indictment against the former White House aide for his scheme to embezzle money from his failed “Build the Wall” scheme which turned out to be nothing but a con job:

“Following Bannon’s pardon, which covers only federal charges, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office began its own investigation of the alleged scam, raising the possibility that Bannon could face state fraud charges. If his case remains open in federal court, it is not expected to affect the ability of state prosecutors to file charges.”

Could Bannon be facing charges in both federal and state court? He most certainly could, and since he and his attorneys are likely to litigate the federal case against him in light of his pardon from Trump, the chances increase that if he’s found guilty, Bannon could be serving his time at Attica or Sing Sing, two of the most infamous prisons in the country.

Bannon probably thought being connected to and working for Donald Trump would bring him fame and fortune. Instead, it has resulted in him facing the prospect of spending a large portion of what remains of his life incarcerated.

 

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Donald Trump The Trump Adminstration

Trump Messed Up Some Of His Pardons –The Recipients Can Still Be Prosecuted

In the final days of his administration, Donald Trump handed out 74 pardons and commuted the sentences of 70 others who had been convicted and sentenced to federal prison.

NBC News notes that many of those who received pardons from Trump were close friends, former associates, or people he believed would somehow endear him to the rich assholes he’s known to hang out with at Mar-a-Lago:

“A list of 143 people, made public early Wednesday morning, included his former chief strategist and longtime ally Steve Bannon as well as his former top fundraiser Elliott Broidy. Then, with less than an hour to go before President-elect Joe Biden was set to be sworn in, Trump granted one last pardon: to Albert J. Pirro, Jr., the ex-husband of Fox News host and longtime ally Jeanine Pirro.”

But some of those pardons were so narrowly constructed and written that they leave the recipients open to prosecution by the Justice Department and Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Former Mueller investigation chief prosecutor Andrew Weissmann spelled out the mistakes Trump made in the pardons of two individuals, longtime Trump friend and confidant Roger Stone and Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, Paul Manafort, in an article he wrote for Just Security:

“The pardon for Paul Manafort (on Dec. 23, 2020), is illustrative. By its own terms, the pardon covers only the crimes “for his conviction” on specific charges and not any other crimes (charged or uncharged). Specifically, the pardon is solely for the crimes of conviction — eight in the Eastern District of Virginia and two in the District of Columbia. That leaves numerous crimes as to which Manafort can still be prosecuted, as in Virginia there were 10 hung counts. In Washington, the situation is even more wide open. In that district, Manafort pleaded to a superseding information containing two conspiracy charges, while the entire underlying indictment — containing numerous crimes from money laundering, to witness tampering, to violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act — now remains open to prosecution as there was no conviction for those charges.”

And then we have Roger Stone and a rouges gallery of other criminals:

“Manafort is not the only example of narrow Trump pardons that may be rectified by the incoming Attorney General. The same narrow pardons were provided to Special Counsel Office defendants Roger Stone (Dec. 23, 2020), George Papadopoulos (Dec. 22, 2020), and Alex van den Zwaan (Dec. 22, 2020), as well as the myriad other felons who received pardons or commutations on December 22 and 23, 2020. As noted, these defendants include murderers, corrupt politicians and law enforcement officers, and Philip Esformes, the single largest health care fraudster in history. These windows of opportunity are due in significant part to a practice followed by prosecutors’ offices across the country: permitting defendants to plead to some, but not all, of their crimes. That feature of these cases should now redound to the benefit of the government, as it may now permit the Department to see that justice is done.”

All of these people can be tried and convicted once again, and this time they won’t be getting a presidential pardon, so they’ll have to serve all of their sentences without the promise of a get-out-of-jail free card waiting for them if they agree to not testify against Trump.

As with everything he does, Donald Trump failed. He wanted to provide protection to those who didn’t testify against him, but all he did was make it more likely they’ll wind up in prison for much longer than they anticipated.

 

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Donald Trump The Trump Adminstration

Trump’s Pardon Of Steve Bannon Appears To Be Invalid And Worthless

Shortly before he left office, former President Donald Trump handed out presidential pardons left and right. 74 to be exact, along with 70 sentence commutations.

But there’s a big problem with some of those pardons: They’re not worth the paper they’re written on, and federal prosecutors are making it clear than intend to fight them in court.

Such is the case with Steve Bannon, who served for a short time as a senior strategist in the early days of the Trump administration. Bannon got a pardon after allegedly ripping off thousands of people who donated millions of dollars to a non-profit that went by the name We Build the Wall. Turns out Bannon wasn’t actually interested in building a wall on the border. Instead, he was eager to line his own pockets by preying on the fears of the easily deluded fools who were convinced they could indeed help construct a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

On Thursday, federal prosecutors made clear in a letter to the court that Bannon’s indictment should not be dismissed, writing:

“The fact that Bannon was pardoned does not extinguish the fact that a grand jury found probable cause to believe that he committed the offenses set forth in the Indictment, nor does it undercut the evidence of his involvement therein which the Government expects to elicit as part of its presentation at trial. Were the Court to dismiss the Indictment against Bannon, it could have a broader effect than the pardon itself, among other things potentially relieving Bannon of certain consequences not covered by the pardon.”

There’s also the matter of Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance, Jr., who is in the process of gathering evidence to indict Bannon. Since that would be a state crime, Bannon’s pardon from Trump would have zero power to keep him out of Rikers Island or Sing Sing, CNN reports:

“Vance recently subpoenaed records related to Bannon’s role in We Build the Wall, a non-profit group purporting to crowdsource a U.S.-Mexico border wall that federal prosecutors allege became a piggy bank for its leaders.”

No matter where he turns, Bannon — much like his former boss — is beset by legal problems. How sweet it would be to see both of them sent up the river for a very long time.

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Donald Trump

Trump’s Pardon Of Steve Bannon Was Useless – New York State Preparing To Go After Former Aide

One of the last official acts by former President Donald Trump in the closing days of his administration was a pardon of his former campaign adviser, Steve Bannon, who had been charged with bilking thousands of investors out of their money that was supposed to help build Trump’s border wall.

But that pardon may have been a waste of paper and ink, according to the Washington Post, which reports that New York prosecutors are considering filing criminal charges against Bannon:

“Investigators working under District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. in his office’s Major Economic Crimes Bureau are in early-stage discussions to determine if there’s a state case to be brought against Bannon for his actions in the fundraising campaign, according to two people with knowledge of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the office’s deliberations.”

Bannon’s pardon only covers federal crimes, meaning that a prosecution from the state of New York wouldn’t be covered under Trump’s attempt to shield his former aide from having to pay for his alleged crime.

Also, Bannon would be unable to claim double jeopardy:

“While talks among investigators in Vance’s office are preliminary, the focus is on whether a state case against Bannon covering the same criminal conduct from his federal case would be an option once a judge formally ­dismisses it. Unlike in Vance’s attempted prosecution of Man­afort, double jeopardy probably would not apply given that Bannon has not been convicted at the federal level.”

Ironically, Trump is also facing criminal charges of his own, both in Manhattan and New York state, where he is suspected of having committed insurance and tax fraud.

Next week, Trump will go on trial in the U.S. Senate for inciting an insurrection on January 6 by stirring up a crowd of angry supporters who stormed the Capitol, resulting in the deaths of five people.

But impeachment is the least of Trump’s worries, as he could be headed to prison for the rest of his life.

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Donald Trump The Trump Adminstration

Trump May Have Issued ‘Secret Pardons’ To Himself And His Children

Many of us were surprised when no pardons were handed out by former President Donald Trump in the final hours of his administration that had his or any of his children’s names on them. Had White House Counsel Pat Cipollone actually been able to convince the notoriously undisciplined Trump to hold back on such a move?

Maybe. But then again, maybe not, according to Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who thinks the former president did issue pardons to protect himself and his family, but is keeping them hidden or “secret” in case one of them is indicted by the feds.

Appearing on MSNBC Sunday, Cohen said he had initially been perplexed by Trump not announcing pardons of himself or his three eldest children, Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric:

“I had put out a tweet talking about how Trump did not pardon himself or he did not pardon his children or Rudy Giuliani, and after a while, of course, knowing Donald Trump for well over a decade — almost a decade and a half as I do — I started thinking to myself it doesn’t really make sense because it’s not like Donald Trump, so what am I missing?”

And that’s when Cohen said it dawned on him: Trump had indeed signed such pardons, but he’s keeping them in reserve like a pocket aces in a high-stakes card game:

“What are we missing as Americans? And I kind of think I figured it out. I think Donald Trump actually has given himself the pardon. I think he also has pocket pardons for his children and for Rudy [Giuliani] and it’s already stashed somewhere that, if and when they do get indicted and that there’s a criminal conviction, federal criminal conviction brought against him, he already has the pardons in hand.”

Cohen then did some research on pardons. What he found is revealing:

“So I started searching over the weekend for whether or not the Constitution requires that pardons be disclosed to the American people and to the press, and I couldn’t find anything that said that it does, and that to me is more in line with what George Conway is trying to say about how Donald Trump doesn’t care about the law, how he will skirt the law, how he will do anything to benefit himself, and that includes even, you know, doing something like this with a pocket pardon.”

What Cohen said makes a lot of sense. It would be just like Trump to try and keep something hidden that he thought he might need down the road.

But even if Trump did pardon himself and his family members, none of those pardons (hidden or not) can save any of them from being charged in a state like New York, where they’re currently under investigation and likely to be indicted in the near future.

Donald Trump loves to brag that he’s a “smart person.” But he isn’t. He never has been. And his “secret” pardons, if they exist, are only a temporary reprieve from the long arm of justice.

Here’s Michael Cohen on MSNBC: