Professor Jed Shugerman was quoted in Bloomberg in an article examining Steve Bannon’s pardon from former President Trump and its implications in ongoing cases.
Donald Trump’s midnight pardon of Steve Bannon complicates the case against the three other men charged with using border-wall donations for personal expenses.
The former chief White House strategist was the highest-profile person accused by Manhattan federal prosecutors in August of defrauding people who gave $25 million to the nonprofit We Build the Wall Inc. Though donors thought they were helping to fund private portions of Trump’s promised wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, the government says around $1 million of the money was used for travel and personal luxuries, including a Range Rover for Bannon.
The case may still prove tough for Bannon’s former co-defendants. Jed Shugerman, a law professor at Fordham University in New York, noted that the government had a large amount of evidence against the men, including emails and texts. Prosecutors could also summon Bannon to testify against them, though he could still invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination based on a hypothetical state prosecution. If he lies under oath, he can still be prosecuted for perjury.
But legal experts said any attempt to get Bannon to testify could be fraught for the government. While he could strengthen the case against the others, he might also prove a wild card for prosecutors, both in terms of what he says and how the jury reacts to him. Shugerman said it may not be worth the risk.
“This is the kind of case that prosecutors call a paper case, in that the documents are so clear,” said Shugerman. “The witness adds color and detail to the paper” but isn’t strictly necessary.