And On The Fourth Day Of The DNC, The *POST OFFICE* *ARRESTED* *STEVE BANNON*
This morning, agents from the US Postal Inspection Service arrested Steve Bannon on a boat and charged him with mail fraud for allegedly stealing money from the nativist rubes who kicked up their cash to build a border wall. Because Karma's a bitch, and a funny one at that.
While we were all waiting for Mexico to cut that check for Trump's stupid WALL, Brian Kolfage, a veteran and multiple-amputee, came up with the bright idea to kickstart the project by using GoFundMe to raise wallbux to donate to the feds. Well, not all that bright. There's no mechanism for the government to accept cash for a dedicated purpose, but no matter. The money came rolling in to "We the People Build the Wall" anyway, and by December 2018 there was $20 million in the pot.
At that point, GoFundMe told Kolfage that he needed to park the funds into a legitimate non-profit, or it was going to transfer them back to the donors. But luckily Trump's former campaign manager Steve Bannon and venture capitalist Andrew Badolato (He seems nice.) were there to help. Old Three Shirts rides to the rescue!
Apropos of nothing, one of the seized accounts in this case is called "White Knights & Vultures LLC." AHEM.
Bannon and Badolato were already trying to figure out how to start minting some sweet, sweet racism cash, so they set up a 501(c)(4) called We Build the Wall Inc. as a repository for the GoFundMe haul. And they changed the mission. Instead of handing off the money to Uncle Sam, these chucklefucks would build that wall themselves! (Well, kind of.) Without taking a salary or compensation. (As if.)
Because this was a different purpose from the original GoFundMe pitch, Kolfage had to persuade the donors to opt in to the transfer. So he blanketed them with emails touting the new "volunteer organization" and promising he would "not take a penny in salary or compensation" and would "refund every penny" if the wall didn't get built.
Down on their luck Nigerian princes are more subtle than this asshole, who told donors over and over, "I take $0 no salary no compensation" and "It's not possible to steal the money" because "I can't touch that money. It's not for me. We have bylaws set up." And then he hit them up to buy merch from his online coffee business. You know, to support his family.
Bannon and Badolato were highly amused by Kolfage's pitches, texting each other gleefully about "the greatest media narrative ever" because it "gives [B]rian Kolfage saint hood." But hackneyed as it was, it worked. Most of the donors released the cash to the LLC, and pretty soon there was $25 million in the account.
KA CHING! It's griftin' time!
Despite Kolfage's assurances that "100% means 100% right? Board won't see any of that money!" the charity's board, headed by Bannon, immediately agreed to give Kolfage $100,000 upfront and then a further $20,000 monthly, routing the transactions through sham vendor companies.
When Kolfage noted that they were going to have to disclose the first $100,000 outlay to one of the shell companies on the charity's tax forms, Badolato texted "Better you than me lol." Which seems like acknowledgement that they were breaking the law, lol. But then Kolfage had the bright idea of paying the money to his wife for "media," so as not to arouse suspicion. So Kolfage started raking in the cash through a series of payments to vendors for "social media" work which was never performed. All told, Bannon channeled upwards of $1 million through a side non-profit, out of which he paid Kolfage $350,000 and used most of the rest for "personal expenses."
In October 2019, the Mensa squad realized that the cops were onto them, so they took evasive measures. They switched to encrypted messaging apps instead of iMessage (presumably), and they edited the charity's website to remove all those promises about not getting paid and said Kolfage would start getting a salary in January 2020. They even cut off the under the table shell company payments. So, it's all kosher, right?
Well, not exactly. This morning, the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York dropped an indictment for money laundering and fraud on the crew. Why, yes, that is the same office that Bill Barr tried so hard to ratfuck and put in the hands of his crony from the SEC. What a coincidence!
But Barr's attempt to Friday Night Massacre the SDNY failed, and he wound up putting Geoffrey Berman's deputy Audrey Strauss, a career prosecutor, in charge of the place. This morning, in a DOJ press release announcing the indictment, "Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the USPIS and the Special Agents of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. She also thanked the U.S Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida for their assistance."
As former Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann points out, the FBI appears to have had nothing whatsoever to do with this indictment. So, make of that one what you will.
Among the many assets the government is looking to seize are accounts for White Knights & Vultures LLC, Citizens of the American Republic, America First Medical LLC, Ranch Property Marketing and Management LLC, Racist Grifters Stealin' Shit LLC, a 2018 Range Rover, and "a 2019 Jupiter marine boat named 'Warfighter.'" Okay, we made up that last LLC for sillies. But the boat is totally real!
It gets better: Kolfage used boat he bought with illegally-siphoned "We Build the Wall" funds to sail in the July 4… https://t.co/NzEy7a4yEJ— Evan Hill (@Evan Hill) 1597934670.0
And in the world's least surprising development, have you met Steve Bannon, Coffee Boy?
Pres. Trump reacting to the news that former top advisor Steve Bannon has been indicted in a scheme to defraud dono… https://t.co/aNze1krWCA— CBS News (@CBS News) 1597940012.0
"He worked for a lot of companies. He was involved in our campaign and for a small part of the administration very early on. Haven't been dealing with him at all. I know nothing about the project other than that I didn't like it," Trump said. "When I read about it, I didn't like it. I said this is for government, this isn't for private people. And it sounded to me like showboating. And I think I let my opinion be very strongly stated at the time."
Yeah, because President Golden Escalator just haaaaaates showboating. The whole thing is all bullshit, of course. Anti-immigrant fail wizard Kris Kobach who did legal work for this scam (natch), said he was negotiating with DHS to match its specs exactly and told the New York Times in January 2019, "I talked with the president, and the 'We Build the Wall Effort' came up. The president said 'the project has my blessing, and you can tell the media that.'"
And here's Deej talking up the project in 2018.
Donald Trump Jr. praised We Build The Wall and Brian Kolfage at a 2018 event: "This is private enterprise at its fi… https://t.co/zZOwoZuKeG— andrew kaczynski🤔 (@andrew kaczynski🤔) 1597937701.0
So much for Coffee Boy Bannon and his grody, showboating wall.
For those of you keeping count at home, this would be the third Trump campaign manager arrested for criminal conduct. Corey Lewandowski was arrested for assaulting a Breitbart reporter (the charges were later dropped), Manafort is in jail for allllll the crimes although he skated on NO COLLUSION, and now Bannon. Plus Roger Stone, Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, Sam Clovis, Sam Patten, etc.
In summary and in conclusion, ALL THE BEST PEOPLE.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.