Bannon Prosecutors Seek to Curb Social Media Posts Before Trial
(Bloomberg) -- Prosecutors asked a judge overseeing the fraud case against President Donald Trump’s former political strategist Steve Bannon to admonish a co-defendant for statements he has been posting on social media sites, saying they violate court rules.
Brian Kolfage has posted a stream of comments about the case on Facebook and Instagram since his arrest on Aug. 21, calling it an assault on freedom and a “witch hunt,” borrowing a term frequently deployed by Trump, and likening himself to a political prisoner. Prosecutors say the comments have the potential to taint the jury pool.
The prosecutors said they’re not seeking a gag order, but may do so if Kolfage persists with his public statements.
Kolfage’s lawyer Harvey Steinberg didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the filing.
When the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office announced the charges, the acting U.S. Attorney, Audrey Strauss, issued a statement saying: “The defendants secretly schemed to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage, which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle.” And the lead inspector of the U.S. Postal Service, which conducted the investigation, said: “This case should serve as a warning to other fraudsters that no one is above the law, not even a disabled war veteran or a millionaire political strategist.” In the court filing Friday, prosecutors say the statements by the authorities didn’t violate the rules.
A hearing in the case is scheduled for Monday. Bannon, Kolfage and two others are charged with wire fraud and money laundering for allegedly siphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars in donor funds for personal use from a foundation they were running to construct privately-funded segments of border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.