Nationalist firebrand Steve Bannon has asked a Manhattan federal judge to dismiss the indictment against him over an alleged scam involving private donations to build a border wall with Mexico, since former President Donald Trump pardoned him.
But Manhattan prosecutors have opposed an outright dismissal, instead asking the judge to “administratively terminate” the case, which would leave the indictment on the books even if he can’t be prosecuted for it, according to a new motion filed Thursday by Bannon’s lawyer in Manhattan federal court.
The government agreed to nullify his $5 million bond but argued that a pardon “involves forgiveness, not forgetfulness” and “does not blot out probable cause or expunge an indictment.”
Bannon’s lawyer Robert Costello is arguing that an “administrative termination” is inappropriate, as it “anticipates future actions.
“Mr. Bannon will never be tried in this district on these charges,” Costello wrote. “The matter must be terminated with finality, and the mechanism for that is to dismiss this indictment. … Anything less fails to recognize the finality effect of a presidential pardon.”
Trump also granted clemency to Michael Flynn and Lil Wayne — aka Dwayne Michael Carter — and a judge dismissed their indictments, which is the routine practice for pending cases, Costello pointed out.
Trump had granted pardons to Flynn, Carter and Bannon — his former top campaign aide and White House strategist — as well as nearly 150 other people before leaving office.
The 67-year-old Bannon was aboard a $28 million yacht in August when he was arrested and charged with defrauding $1 million from donors to the “We Build the Wall” GoFundMe campaign.
The case against his co-defendants, Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea, is still pending.