In 2018, frustrated with Congress refusing to allocate billions of dollars to President Donald Trump's border wall in its budget, Trump supporters began a GoFundMe organized by Iraq War veteran Brian Kolfage.
The campaign was a huge financial success, raising tens of millions of dollars—still significantly short of the billions needed for the wall. Kolfage repeatedly assured donors that he'd make sure all of the money would go toward the wall's construction.
Now, over two years later, Kolfage and three others have been indicted by the Southern District of New York. Infamous former Trump advisor Steve Bannon is among them.
Leaders of 'We Build The Wall' online fundraising campaign charged with defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors https://t.co/cH2abWm2Phpic.twitter.com/NKxfKXkcEX
— US Attorney SDNY (@SDNYnews) August 20, 2020
Bannon's initial appointment to the Trump administration as a chief strategist drew national outcry because of his ties to white supremacy. Bannon was the founder of Breitbart News—a media outlet labeled by Media Bias/Fact Check as "Extreme Right, Propaganda, Conspiracy." He departed the White House in 2017.
Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:
"As alleged, the defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction. While repeatedly assuring donors that Brian Kolfage, the founder and public face of We Build the Wall, would not be paid a cent, the defendants secretly schemed to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage, which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle. We thank the USPIS for their partnership in investigating this case, and we remain dedicated to rooting out and prosecuting fraud wherever we find it."
Meanwhile, the White House attempted to distance Trump from the man he appointed to his administration:
"President Trump has not been involved with Steve Bannon since the campaign and the early part of the Administration, and he does not know the people involved with this project."
People were overjoyed at the news of Bannon's arrest.
Enjoying this morning's preview of the GOP convention: Bannon indicted for fraud & Trump's taxes headed to the Manhattan DA.
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) August 20, 2020
As Judge Marrero's decision on the Trump subpoena and the indictment of Steve Bannon shows, if there are a heart and soul of justice in this country, they're in the United States District Court and the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) August 20, 2020
Is Mexico going to pay Steve Bannon's bail?
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) August 20, 2020
It's has to be said.
Steve Bannon did Nazi this arrest coming.
— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) August 20, 2020
Apparently Bannon was motivated by economic anxiety after all
— Stan Veuger (@stanveuger) August 20, 2020
It wasn't lost on anyone that U.S. Postal Service inspectors were the ones to carry out Bannon's arrest.
Steve Bannon was taken into custody by US Postal Service Agents; if that's not ironic, I'm not sure what is.
— Shermichael Singleton (@Shermichael_) August 20, 2020
You know who arrested Bannon? THE POST OFFICE!
SAVE THE POST OFFICE! PROTECT THE ELECTION!#USPSProtests NOW!!! SATURDAY AT 11 AM LOCAL!
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) August 20, 2020
THE POSTAL SERVICE CAPTURED BANNON AT SEA https://t.co/QSrTlNJfhi
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) August 20, 2020
Steve Bannon: oh, that must be the mailman.
post office agents: mail-MEN pic.twitter.com/yf6Tyvy7pJ
— Siraj Hashmi (@SirajAHashmi) August 20, 2020
Wait, did I just hear that the Post Office brought Bannon, Kolfage and others down?! Postal fraud?! PERFECT!!!
— Sue (@puprags) August 20, 2020
Bannon is expected to plead not guilty.