Steve Bannon Requests Lawyer Change During Big Court Battle

( Steve Bannon, one of former President Donald Trump’s one-time top advisers, has asked that he be allowed to switch his legal representation for a fraud case he’s facing over the funding campaign called “We Build the Wall.”

Late last week, ABC News reported that one of the attorneys who was representing Bannon, David Schoen, told the judge who’s presiding over the case that “irreconcilable differences have arisen” between his team and his client. That is why Bannon is requesting that he be allowed to find new legal representation.

As Schoen explained to the judge last Thursday:

“There has been a direct breakdown in communication so that Mr. Bannon and his lawyers don’t communicate directly.”

While that seems like a reasonable enough explanation, the prosecuting team has other ideas. In arguing against allowing Bannon to find new legal representation, the prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office — which has brought the case against him — said that Bannon is doing this only to try to delay the case from proceeding.

As of right now, the trial isn’t expected to start until sometime in November.

After listening to both sides argue their points, presiding Judge Juan Merchan said that Bannon would have until February 28 to find different legal representation.

Last September, Bannon was indicted in the case and accused of defrauding donors to the “We Build the Wall” campaign. That fundraising effort collected more than $15 million from donors.

In its marketing pitches, the campaign said it would take the funds that it received and donate them so that Trump’s infamous wall between the U.S. and Mexico border could be completed.

The campaign also claimed that it wouldn’t use any of the money it received to pay for the salary of Brian Kolfage, who served as its president. Prosecutors claim that he was ultimately paid in excess of $250,000 for 2019. They also allege that Bannon laundered at least $140,000 of that.

Bannon was originally facing federal charges for his role in the scheme, but Trump granted him presidential clemency back in January of 2021. That led the New York attorney general’s office and the Manhattan district attorney’s office to file state charges against him.

Bannon has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Last September, Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, held a press conference at which he said that Bannon was the “architect” of the scheme. Bragg said local prosecutors started their investigation into Bannon and the scheme once he received the presidential pardon.

As Bragg explained:

“We then began investigating and determined that Mr. Bannon must be held accountable in this jurisdiction, the jurisdiction of New York State, for his conduct as the architect of this scheme, which impacted hundreds of Manhattan residents.”

The charges against Bannon in the case are second-degree money laundering (two counts), fourth-degree conspiracy (two counts), first-degree scheme to defraud (one count) and fifth-degree conspiracy (one count).