Judge Tosses Indictment Against Steve Bannon
U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres says dropping case is 'the proper course'
A judge has finally tossed the indictment against ex-Trump advisor Steve Bannon out of court following months of legal wrangling.
Bannon, President Donald Trump's former strategist, won the dismissal of an indictment that accused him of defrauding donors who paid to fund the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres said tossing the case out of court was "the proper course."
On January 20, Bannon received a presidential pardon from Trump, which he signed just hours before he left the Oval Office.
Tuesday's decision ended months of legal wrangling over how the court system should handle the pardon.
His lawyer Robert Costello said Bannon is "thrilled" with the indictment's dismissal.
"She certainly got the result right," Costello said, referring to the judge.
While President Trump issued a pardon for Bannon prior to leaving office, prosecutors had argued that the indictment dismissal "could have a broader effect than the pardon itself, among other things potentially relieving Bannon of certain consequences not covered by the pardon," according to the Washington Times.
Bannon previously pled not guilty to charges alleging he and three other individuals defrauded people who made donations to construct a border wall.
The federal fraud case against Steve Bannon has finally been officially dismissed after Trump issued an 11th hour pardon in January pic.twitter.com/zalvxSDO2n— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) May 25, 2021
Prosecutors had argued that instead of dismissing the indictment, the judge should merely dismiss Bannon as one of the four defendants.
The defendants had been charged in connection with an alleged siphoning of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the $25 million “We Build the Wall” crowdfunding campaign.
Judge Torres said the pardon was valid, and that even if Bannon did not formally admit guilt “the issuance of a pardon may carry an imputation of guilt; acceptance a confession of it.”
The office of U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in Manhattan declined to comment.
"A pardon doesn’t rewrite history," Bannon's lawyer noted.
"But in this case, we’re dealing with a person who is presumed innocent by the Constitution of the United States and whose plea was not guilty, and nothing changes that history either.”
It was not immediately clear how the dismissal will affect Bannon’s co-defendants.
The defendants include Brian Kolfage, an Air Force veteran and triple amputee who led the We Build the Wall campaign.
“There is nothing I have to say about the situation,” Kolfage’s lawyer Harvey Steinberg said in an interview.
“It is completely out of our hands, and within the Executive Branch’s discretion.”