Call it a perfect crime: Steve Bannon, the nasty former Trump guru, is under arrest. As for the hundreds of thousands of xenophobic contributors who gave $25 million to his We Build the Wall charity, file them under Well and Truly Scammed.
Federal prosecutors allege that Bannon and the three other defendants weren't telling the truth when they promised that all donations would go to building the wall—and none to the swamp rats who launched the charity. The indictment alleges that the already wealthy Bannon dipped into the donations to the tune of $1 million.
That indictment came from a grand jury in the Southern District of New York, currently under the stewardship of an acting United States attorney. The previous head of the office, a Trump appointee, had resigned—after initially declining to be fired by Attorney Second Lieutenant William Barr. (Sorry: I demoted him from attorney general for his willingness to do anything Trump wants—instead of pursuing, you know, justice.)
Any federal indictment against a Trump friend comes with a huge asterisk: Even if the Trump pal is convicted and sentenced, President Pardon will come to the rescue—unless you show disloyalty to him.
Trump, of course, says that it was inappropriate for anyone to set up a "charity" to raise money to build Trump's "beautiful wall." (You know, the one that Trump was going to get Mexico to pay for.) But back in 2018, presidential offspring Donald Jr. praised the charity, calling it "private enterprise at its finest." Oops! It will be fun watching the elder Trump trying to send out contradictory signals: He didn't like the fraudulent charity that Bannon promoted, but he feels bad for Bannon and wishes him well.
As for Bannon, he has to do some serious thinking: Should he cooperate with prosecutors and sing like a canary about the man he helped win the Electoral College, in return for a lenient plea bargain? Or should he remain loyal, clam up, hope for the best at trial, and count on Trump to pardon him? But the wheels of justice grind slowly. So his trial might not even happen until well into 2021. Should he bet that Trump will still be occupying the White House after January 20, or will it be Joe Biden? Hmmmmm.
A word of advice, Steve: You've always considered yourself the smartest—if not the best dressed—person in any room. So use some of that alleged brainpower and figure the odds carefully. If you make the wrong bet on this election, you could be in for a really long spell in the crossbar hotel.
First in my class in Officer Candidate School. Late to the conclusion that our attitude toward the military is idolatrous.