In a New York lawsuit accusing him of scamming supporters of funds he believed would be used to build a wall along the U.S. southern border, former White House adviser Steve Bannon is firing his attorneys.
According to several press sources, Bannon’s current lawyer David Schoen informed Judge Juan Merchan in a Manhattan courtroom on Thursday that “irreconcilable differences have developed” on Bannon’s defense team.
According to ABC News, Schoen added, “We certainly don’t need to show good reason and we don’t need to go into depth.”
Merchan, however, was dubious and questioned whether the action wasn’t just an effort to stall things. However, Schoen argued that Bannon and his attorneys had a severe breakdown in communication.
Bannon has until February 28 to hire new counsel, according to the judge.
On his final night in office, Donald Trump had granted Bannon’s pardon, clearing him of all charges related to the fundraising scam. Two other individuals associated with the We Build the Wall campaign, Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato, were indicted with Bannon on federal charges and entered guilty pleas last year.
But in September, after a joint investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and New York Attorney General Letitia James, Bannon and We Build the Wall were indicted in New York. Only federal charges were shielded by Trump’s pardon.
According to Bragg, the We Build the Wall campaign, which was launched in 2019, raised $15 million on the basis of “false promises,” and hundreds of thousands of dollars were used for organizers’ salaries and expenses. In New York, it is claimed that more than 11,000 contributors were cheated out of about $730,000.
James charged Bannon with using “the political opinions of his contributors to secure millions of dollars that he then plundered.”
In New York, you will be held accountable for making money by lying to contributors, Bragg warned.
Bannon has pled not guilty to allegations of money laundering, conspiracy, and fraud scheme. He has claimed that the case is politically motivated. He might spend as much as 15 years in prison if found guilty of all the counts.
Bannon was found guilty of acting in contempt of Congress for ignoring a subpoena to appear before a House committee on January 6 and was given a four-month prison term and a $6,500 fine in October. In order to give Bannon time to appeal, the punishment was suspended.