Saturday, August 22, 2020

The Lifestyle of Steve Bannon

In the wake of the arrest of Steve Bannon, Benjamin Raphael Teitelbaum, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and author of “War for Eternity: Inside Bannon’s Far-Right Circle of Global Power Brokers,” writes in The Wall Street Journal:
I was with Steve Bannon on July 25, 2019, when he unveiled a stretch of wall lining the U.S.-Mexico border just west of El Paso, Texas, an impressive high-security structure funded by private donations. I had been following Mr. Bannon for more than a year, interviewing him and those around him for my book “War for Eternity.” ...

[A]ccording to federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, Mr. Bannon’s barrier concealed a scandal, for which he was arrested Thursday morning. They allege that Mr. Bannon and three others knowingly and illegally channeled donated money to pay an undisclosed salary to wall spokesman Brian Kolfage and to compensate some of Mr. Bannon’s personal expenses.

The allegations surprised me. Why would Mr. Bannon, a multimillionaire, take such risks to obtain what investigators suggest is a few hundred thousand dollars? Although in recent years he occasionally found himself testing the limits of campaign-finance laws through apparent missteps, he is just as notable for having evaded the grasp of prosecutors like Robert Mueller. In my review of the paper trail left behind the 2016 Trump campaign, Mr. Bannon often appears to have shrewd legal instincts, identifying risks posed by the likes of former campaign manager Paul Manafort. He could be clumsy—“Sloppy Steve” as the president eventually took to calling him—but he understood the game. Yet the recent indictment portrays Mr. Bannon as participating in a conscious, long-term scheme to achieve a meager reward.

Granted, the lifestyle I witnessed him living in various cities from 2018-19 seemed absurdly expensive. He traveled by private jet with a team in tow, stayed in opulent hotels, and treated large numbers of guests to elite dining and transportation, day after day, year after year. Even he can’t be paying for all of this, I thought. Surely he has major benefactors funding all of his projects.
Hmm, very Jeffrey Epstein like, a friend to many wealthy people with an over-the-top lifestyle, with seeming mysterious sources of income.


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