Details of the state court indictment have not yet been made public, but people familiar with the matter say it is related to fraud allegations that were the subject of Bannon’s pardon. In that case, he was accused in U.S. District Court in Manhattan of personally pocketing $1 million from “We Build the Wall,” a Trump-aligned cash collection drive that Bannon helped to orchestrate starting in December 2018.
Presidential pardons can only apply to federal cases, making it possible for local prosecutors to bring cases covering the same ground that involve potential violations of applicable state statutes.
Bannon’s case will be handled in New York Supreme Court by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and New York Attorney General Letitia James. Spokespeople in both offices have declined to comment on what is still a sealed matter.
But the indictment and the expected surrender were confirmed by multiple people familiar with the arraignment who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details related to a sealed case.
In a statement Tuesday night, Bannon — a right-wing activist, podcaster and political strategist — referred to the expected case as “phony” and called the move by state prosecutors “nothing more than a partisan political weaponization of the criminal justice system.”
In August 2020, Bannon was yanked off a yacht by federal law enforcement to face his indictment in the original “We Build the Wall” case. Bannon pleaded not guilty to wire fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to commit money laundering in the fundraising case and was released on a $5 million bond.
He and three other men, who were not pardoned by Trump, were accused of defrauding contributors after promising that all funds collected would support the wall’s construction. Two of the men, including disabled veteran Brian Kolfage, have pleaded guilty. A trial for another alleged participant, Timothy Shea, ended in a mistrial by hung jury in June.
Completing a physical barrier across the entire southern U.S. border was a hallmark promise of Trump’s 2016 campaign that never fully materialized. Bannon was a key adviser to Trump during the campaign and for several months at the White House.
Because Bannon, 68, was granted clemency before a conviction, there is not expected to be a viable issue of double jeopardy in his new case.
But double jeopardy — the legal principle that you cannot be tried twice for the same crime — did apply in a New York state mortgage fraud case brought against Paul Manafort, another Trump ally. That case was dismissed in December 2019 after a judge decided the charges overlapped too much with those in Manafort’s federal conviction.
Manafort’s federal prosecution stemmed from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe into 2016 election meddling. Manafort was pardoned by Trump at the end of 2020. Bannon’s pardon was among dozens of acts of clemency that came in the last hours of Trump’s presidency in January 2021.
Bannon’s ties to Trump landed him in legal trouble again when the Justice Department brought a case against him for contempt of Congress after he refused to comply with a subpoena for records and testimony from the House select committee investigating the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Bannon was convicted in that case in late July and is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 21. Each of the two counts he was convicted on carries a minimum of 30 days in jail and up to a year.
This story will be updated.