Former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon was back on the air on his internet radio show Friday just hours after being hauled away in handcuffs aboard a mega-yacht owned by a Chinese billionaire.
Bannon was arrested Thursday as part of an alleged fraud scheme to defraud hundreds and thousands of donors to the ‘We Build the Wall’ campaign and get funds for Bannon and others that they used for personal expenses totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But he certainly wasn’t keeping his head down Friday, appearing on his radio show and blasting his prosecution as a ‘hit job’ – a term President Trump has used to disparage the Mueller probe.
‘This fiasco is a total political hit job,’ he said at the top of his show.
‘I am not going to back down. This is a political hit job.’Everybody knows I love a fight,’ he said on his ‘War Room’ program.
He even referenced an early Internet meme about the tenacious honey badger to describe his will to fight.
‘I was called ‘honey badger’ for many years. You know, ‘Honey badger doesn’t give.’ So, I’m in this for the long haul. I’m in this for the fight,’ he said. ‘I’m going to continue to fight.
He tied himself to the border wall – a top political cause of President Trump’s that bannon helped elevate as a key campaign advisor.
‘This was to stop and intimidate people that want to talk about the wall,’ he said.
He called Brian Kolfage – an Iraq vet who headed the fundraising effort and also was indicted Thursday in Florida, ‘an American hero.’
Bannon referenced Trump’s recent comments where the president distanced himself from Bannon. He said Trump was right that ‘building the wall is a government function.’
A red ‘Make Families Great Again’ hat, similar to MAGA hats worn by Trump supporters, could be seen in the background of his show, which broadcasts from a townhouse in Washington, D.C.
Bannon said his focus has been the ‘sovereignty of the Chinese people.’
Early in the program, Bannon also pointed out when he was released from his hearing there were flags from the ‘Federal State of New China’ – an exile government being proclaimed by the Chinese billionaire who was hosting Bannon during his arrest.
‘They had all those flags there. That’s the flag of the New Federal State. It was incredible,’ Bannon told listeners.
Bannon was arrested aboard the 150-foot yacht owned by Guo Wengui, a fugitive Chinese billionaire.
Chinese authorities have accused Guo of fraud. He has been pictured with Bannon aboard the megayacht, and this summer they were behind an effort to declare a new ‘Federal State of New China’ that flew flags towed by planes around New York Harbor.
According to the Associated press, Guo paid $68 million in 2015 for his 9,000 square foot apartment overlooking Central Park and joined Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in West Palm Beach.
In a livestream, Guo said with Bannon alongside him: ‘From today the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will no longer be the lawful government of China’ in July.
Forbes estimated Guo’s wealth at $1.1 billion in 2015. He has frequently irked Chinese authorities with his public statements.
Bannon was released after putting up $5 million bail, secured by $1.75 million in assets.
Magistrate Judge Stewart Aaron approved Bannon’s release. Two ‘financially responsible’ co-signers will have to guarantee his bail and he was ordered to surrender his passport and is banned from traveling outside Washington D.C. or contacting his co-defendants without permission. He was specifically banned from private planes and yachts.
Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have accused Bannon and others defrauding hundreds of thousands of people as part of a group pledging to use private donations to build a section of border wall.’
The We Build The Wall scheme raised $25 million to fund its own barriers in Texas and New Mexico, some of which have been built. The group’s online appeal for funds included a picture of President Trump and a stamp that said ‘Trump Approved.’
But prosecutors say it was a scam: donors’ cash was also funneled to its founder Brian Kolfage and to Bannon.
He claimed he did not get a cent from the scheme but instead got $100,000 up front and $20,000 a month salary, prosecutors allege, living a lavish lifestyle at Miramar Beach in the Florida panhandle.
Kolfage, an Iraq war veteran who had both legs amputated and lost his right arm in a rocket attack, was arrested at his home in Florida.