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Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon exits the Manhattan Federal Court in New York City in August 2020. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon's federal fraud charges were dismissed by a federal judge in New York City on Tuesday because of his presidential pardon from former President Trump.

Why it matters: U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres' decision to dismiss the criminal charges over a scheme to privately finance a southern border wall follows a months-long legal fight over how to deal with Bannon's pardon when related cases are ongoing.

The big picture: While Trump pardoned Bannon as one of his final acts in office in January, he did not do the same for Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shea — all of whom were also charged for allegedly defrauding donors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the crowdfunding campaign.

  • Prosecutors had asked the judge to dismiss Bannon — who pleaded not guilty last year to the charges — as one of the defendants in the case, rather than dismissing the indictment.

Details: Torres noted in her order that prosecutors didn't dispute that Bannon's pardon was valid and that "it is not the practice of this district to remove a defendant from the docket without resolution of the indictment."

  • But she added that "pardon implies guilt," quoting an 1853 New Jersey Supreme Court ruling.
"'If there be no guilt, there is no ground for forgiveness … A party is acquitted on the ground of innocence, he is pardoned through favor. And upon this very ground it is that the pardoning power is never vested in a judge.'"

What they're saying: Bannon's attorney Bob Costello told the Washington Post the judge had "reached the right result." He noted to the Wall Street Journal that Bannon "has never been found guilty of anything, and he's not guilty."

  • The Manhattan U.S. attorney's office declined to comment on the ruling.

Read the judge's memorandum and order, obtained by the Court Listener, via DocumentCloud:

Go deeper

Updated Aug 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

"Not patriotism": Sentencing judges rebuke Capitol rioters

Judge Amy Berman Jackson at the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A federal judge sentencing a Michigan man in D.C. Wednesday over his role in the U.S. Capitol riot dismissed any notion that he's a political prisoner.

Driving the news: U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that she wasn't sentencing Karl Dresch, of Calumet, "because he is a supporter" of former President Trump, noting that "millions of people" had voted for him "and did not heed his call to descend on the nation's Capitol," per the Detroit News.

Scoop: U.S. and Israel to form team to solve consulate dispute

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (right) meet in Washington. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel are planning to form a joint team to hold discreet negotiations on the reopening of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, Israeli officials say.

Why it matters: The consulate handled relations with the Palestinians for 25 years before being shut down by then President Donald Trump in 2019. Senior officials in Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government see the consulate issue as a political hot potato that could destabilize their unwieldy coalition.

Nikolas Cruz pleads guilty to Parkland school shooting

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz at the defense table during jury selection at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Oct. 6, 2021. Photo: Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Nikolas Cruz on Wednesday pleaded guilty on all counts for carrying out the 2018 shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead, including 14 students and three staff members.

Driving the news: Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty at a hearing on Wednesday to 17 murder counts and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder for carrying out the deadly shooting.