President Donald Trump said Thursday that he felt very badly about the arrest of Stephen Bannon, his top aide during the 2016 campaign and former White House strategist, but clarified that he hasn’t been dealing with the former right-hand man for a long time.
“I feel very badly. I haven’t been dealing with him for a long period of time as most of the people in this room know,” he said.
Bannon was charged earlier the day along with three other organizers of the “We Build The Wall” online fundraising campaign for allegedly “defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors.”
In December 2018, Kolfage and others created an online crowdfunding campaign via GoFundMe called “We Build the Wall” that raised more than $25 million to build a private border wall along the southern border.
It’s unclear how many miles of border wall the project has built.
According to a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, Brian Kolfage and Bannon allegedly took $350,000 and $1 million from the fund respectively, despite Kolfage assuring during the fundraising that he will “not take a penny in salary or compensation.”
Bannon and Kolfage could not be immediately reached for comment.
Unlike the government-built border wall he committed to build and fought to fund, Trump had no enthusiasm for the private border wall and showed his unhappiness with it publicly.
“I disagreed with doing this very small (tiny) section of wall, in a tricky area, by a private group which raised money by ads. It was only done to make me look bad, and perhaps it now doesn’t even work. Should have been built like rest of Wall, 500 plus miles,” he wrote in a Twitter post back on July 12.
I disagreed with doing this very small (tiny) section of wall, in a tricky area, by a private group which raised money by ads. It was only done to make me look bad, and perhsps it now doesn’t even work. Should have been built like rest of Wall, 500 plus miles. https://t.co/L8RUPCAhqc
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2020
He criticized the project as “showboating” efforts after the charges against the organizers were announced.
“I know nothing about the project other than I didn’t like when I read about it … This is for government. This isn’t for private people. And it sounded to me like showboating,” he said. “It was showboating and maybe looking for funds.”
The Trump Administration has built over 300 miles of border wall and will have almost 500 miles completed by the end of the year, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.