Former Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon received some bad news this week as the Italian government has put an end to his plans to turn a medieval monastery into a “far right training academy” near Rome.
The Daily Mail reports that the former Carthusian monastery that Bannon has been paying the €100,000-a-year rent on, the Certosa di Trisulti, belongs to the state, in the mountains east of Rome, and they are revoking his lease, ending his plans for a training center after reports of fraud surfaced.
Italy’s cultural heritage ministry is pulling the plug after they allowed the conservative Catholic organization Dignitatis Humanae Institute (DHI) to use the building early last year. Bannon is a trustee of the institute and had plans to bring in students to learn philosophy, theology, history, and economics, and receive political training directly from Bannon.
The Italian newspaper, Repubblica reported in May that the letter guaranteeing the lease was a forgery. The letter from the Danish bank Jyske had the signature of an employee who hadn’t been with the bank for years, and so the lending institution called it fraudulent.
But Bannon is calling the whole matter a conspiracy, saying the letter and the signature are legitimate.
“All of this stuff is just dust being kicked up by the left.”
But Italy’s culture ministry says that there are more problems with Bannon’s deal because the institute failed to pay the concession fee and also didn’t do the required maintenance work on the building.
Gianluca Vacca, an undersecretary at the ministry, says this has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the law.
“It’s not about political opinions but respect for the law. Thus proceeding with the revocation was a duty.”
But Benjamin Harnwell, the institute’s founder, says that his think tank will fight to hold onto the monastery.
“He vowed his institute will contest the ‘illegitimate maneuver with every resource at its disposal no matter how many years it takes.'”
Harnwell and Bannon will continue to fight the lease revocation and are hopeful that the Trump adviser’s connection with right-wing Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini will help them succeed. Salvini has become “Italy’s most prominent politician after his anti-migrant party, the League, formed a coalition government last year with the populist, left-leaning 5-Star Movement.”
It has been Bannon’s dream to open the academy in order to help spread nationalist and populist movements across Europe.