Ex-US Attorney Preet Bharara checks off mistakes Bannon likely made that led to his arrest
Preet Bharara appears on HBO with Bill Maher/Screenshot

On Saturday, former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara walked through how serious the charges are against former Trump adviser Steve Bannon — and how he likely got caught.


"It's very damning," said Bharara. "Sometimes you have cases somewhat triable. There are reasonable defenses. Always some defense someone can offer. In this case, think about what the fraud is ... time and time again, members of the We Build The Wall announced to the public and potential donors that they were not going to take any salary, not one penny. 100 percent of the money was going to go toward the building of the wall. You have that representation on one hand. And on the other hand, the prosecutors seem to have documentary evidence of lots and lots of money going right into the pockets of the defendants, in particular a $100,000 payment to the main defendant, Brian Kolfage, and $20,000 a month after that." He added that, "It's hard to imagine what an effective defense would be in this case."

"So was it that ostentatious and luxurious lifestyle that raised flags for the prosecutors?" asked anchor Bianna Golodryga. "This organization was heavily promoted when it initially began."

"It's hard to know," said Bharara. "May have been a suspicious activity report filed by one of the banks. There's a lot of bank investigation that went on here, as you can see if you read the indictment. It may have been some donor raised a red flag and thought the money wasn't going to the right place. They may have had someone on the inside. It's hard to know. Certainly part of what probably raised red flags is the kind of lifestyle that one or more of these people led after they are saying they're not using any of this money for anything other than the purpose for which they advertised it."

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