As Honig noted, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York indictment accuses Bannon and his co-conspirators of funneling millions of dollars from the “We the People Build the Wall” crowdfunding campaign and using it for their personal expenses. The analyst claimed that the indictment suggests that the SDNY has documents that provide a “strong” case against the accused.
“From Bannon’s perspective, it’s one thing to defend a case that turns on subtle issues of subjective intent, or that rest on testimony from other co-conspirators,” the analysis read. “But it’s much harder to defend a case based on black-and-white financial documents. A good defense lawyer can cross-examine a witness and try to take apart his story — but it’s much harder to argue with phony invoices and forged receipts.”
Bannon and his co-conspirators each face charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which means they all face a maximum of 40 years in prison. According to Honig, Bannon likely faces closer to seven to nine years — although this could be decreased with a guilty plea. Nevertheless, he said the millionaire’s current outlook is “bleak.”
In a scenario where Bannon decides to cooperate with the SDNY, the lawyer said that the former presidential adviser could significantly reduce his prison time, but not without a cost.
“But, to save himself, Bannon will very likely need to give the SDNY the ammunition it needs to take others down too,” Honig wrote.
As reported by CBC News, Bannon pleaded not guilty in court on Thursday, not long after his arrest. He was taken into custody while aboard Lady May — a luxury yacht — off the coast of Connecticut.
Bannon is another in a long line of Trump associates who are facing criminal charges. When pressed on the indictment against his former White House chief strategist, the president said he felt “badly” about the development but claimed to have not dealt with Bannon for a “long period of time.”
Per ABC News, Trump’s former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, is currently imprisoned on an 81-month sentence for various financial crimes connected to his alleged lobbying activities in Ukraine. He is serving his time in a minimum-security prison close to Scranton, Pennsylvania — the hometown of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.