Steve Bannon, the controversial figure known for his far-right political activism, finds himself embroiled in a legal quagmire of his own making. His failure to honor a substantial legal bill, amounting to nearly $480,487 owed to his long-time lawyer, former federal prosecutor Robert "Bob" Costello, has triggered a series of events that may have significant implications for his ongoing legal battles.
Costello had represented Bannon in various cases over the years, including charges related to the misappropriation of donor funds meant for a privately funded border wall between the United States and Mexico. Consequently, Bannon's refusal to settle his debt led to a lawsuit from the law firm of Davidoff Hutcher and Citron, resulting in a court order demanding payment.
This financial negligence, it turns out, may now come back to haunt him. In an attempt to prevent Costello's law firm from scrutinizing his bank statements and assets, Bannon sought an injunction from a New York state judge.
This move, however, necessitated an uncomfortable admission from Bannon himself: his personal financial records might contain evidence that could bolster the Manhattan District Attorney's case against him.
Bannon's Legal Dilemma
Bannon's current defense attorney, Harlan Protass, argued that allowing Costello's law firm to delve into Bannon's financial affairs could jeopardize his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Moreover, subjecting Bannon to questioning under oath by the law firm's attorneys posed a similar risk, as it could result in potentially damaging statements that could strengthen ongoing criminal cases against him. Notably, Bannon refused to testify about his alleged involvement in former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election when subpoenaed by the House Jan.
6 Committee, and he was subsequently charged by the Department of Justice, although he remains free while appealing the conviction. In a separate case, the Manhattan District Attorney has pursued criminal charges against Bannon related to the "We Build the Wall" project, an initiative that raised crowdfunded money to build a privately sponsored border wall.
Bannon was initially charged in 2020 but later received a pardon from Trump. However, he still faces state charges in the matter, with a trial scheduled for May.
Bannon's Controversial Actions and Legal Challenges
Bannon's actions took a peculiar turn when he distanced himself from his own lawyers at the start of the Manhattan DA's case in January 2023, and his refusal to settle his debt to Costello appeared particularly provocative given the latter's association with an FBI surveillance effort involving Bannon.
Despite his mounting legal troubles, Bannon remains an outspoken and divisive figure, using his War Room podcast as a platform to challenge the American democratic system and advocate for a forceful return of Trump to the White House.
In a related development, Bannon's financial entanglements have expanded as federal law enforcement indicted one of his major benefactors, billionaire Guo Wengui, for alleged fraud. Moreover, a recent superseding indictment has implicated several businesses, including the social media app Gettr, founded by Bannon and Guo, in a criminal enterprise.
Subpoena Fallout and Temporary Truce
The decision to withhold payment from Costello has also had consequences, as Costello's law firm subpoenaed Gettr in November, seeking information about Bannon's involvement with the company.
These details are now acknowledged by Bannon to potentially pose a legal threat in his ongoing criminal cases. As both sides engage in legal wrangling, they have agreed to temporarily halt their dispute until mid-February, allowing room for further legal arguments to be presented. Steve Bannon's legal woes continue to unfold amidst a backdrop of political controversy and allegations of wrongdoing.