April 23, 2022

You may recall that Steve Bannon was arrested in 2020 for siphoning $1 million from duped Trump supporters who had been promised that 100% of their donations would go toward building a wall on the Mexican border. Three others were also charged over the scheme.

Bannon was pardoned by Donald Trump shortly before he left office. But the three co-defendants were left to fend for themselves.

Now, as The Guardian reports, two of those co-defendants have pleaded guilty to knowingly defrauding donors and pocketing large sums for themselves. Each will be sentenced to about four years in jail. A third co-defendant may go to trial next month.

Nicolle Wallace discussed the case on MSNBC with former federal prosecutor Chuck Rosenberg. Wallace asked Rosenberg for the significance of the pleadings, beyond the disgusting fact that Trump pardoned someone who had committed “real crimes for which others are paying hefty prices.”

Rosenberg said that one of the two injustices in this case is that it looks like Trump pardoned Bannon as a way to buy his silence:

ROSENBERG: I think there are two injustices here. One is that three people are being held accountable for a crime committed by four people. That's injustice number one. And then there's a related injustice. You touched on it. Trump pardoned Bannon. That is unfair, although within the plenary powers of a president, but it also means, and we talked about this on your show, that perhaps what Trump was seeking was Bannon's silence.

One of the ways in which we get criminals to talk about other criminals is by holding them accountable for their crimes and exposing them to incarceration. So now, If Bannon doesn't have to worry about that at all, perhaps Trump doesn't have to worry about Bannon telling a grand jury what Bannon knows about Trump.

However, Bannon may still face state charges, since Trump’s pardon only covers federal crimes and, as Rosenberg said, “it’s still a crime to steal money or to defraud people of money in all 50 states, as far as I know.” Rosenberg didn’t sound optimistic on that score. “I wouldn’t call it a probability,” he said. The New York Times says Bannon is under investigation by the Manhattan district attorney for this. But then again, Trump was, too.

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