Steve Bannon – the former chairman of Breitbart News who served briefly as President Trump’s chief strategist – was arrested Thursday morning and charged with fraud. He has since pleaded not guilty.
He was found off the coast of Connecticut on a mega-yacht owned by exiled Chinese dissident Guo Wengui.
Bannon and three others have been accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors who thought they were contributing to a fundraising effort for Trump’s Border Wall.
Bannon pleaded not guilty to the charges and claimed the “entire fiasco is to stop people who want to build the wall.” Witnesses described Bannon’s appearance in court as ‘sunburned’ and ‘disheveled’ and said he was rocking back and forth in his chair.
Bannon was released Thursday under the following conditions:
- Pretrial supervision
- Travel restrictions that prevent him from leaving the New York/Washington, DC area and from utilizing private airplanes or yachts
- A $5 million bail bond due by September 3rd
Steve Bannon was an early Trump supporter who played a key role in his 2016 campaign. He was ousted by the president in August 2017 after describing as “treasonous” a meeting between Trump aides and a Russian lawyer. Bannon’s arrest was made possible through a joint operation involving DOJ agents, the US Coast Guard, a local response boat, and a MH-60J helicopter. Bannon’s friends said he was “at sea” for the past several weeks.