(USA Features) A federal judge on Tuesday tossed out an indictment against former top Trump adviser Steve Bannon over the objections of prosecutors because he has already been pardoned by the ex-president.
Calling it the “proper course,” U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres of the Southern District of New York, a Barack Obama appointee, nevertheless acknowledged that it is not the practice the region’s courts to remove a defendant’s case without first resolving the indictment.
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Also, she was clear the pardon by itself does not automatically render a defendant innocent of any alleged crime or probable cause of guilt.
To the contrary, from the country’s earliest days, courts, including the Supreme Court, have acknowledged that even if there is no formal admission of guilt, the issuance of a pardon may ‘carr(y) an imputation of guilt; acceptance a confession of it,’” she noted in her ruling, partially quoting a 1915 court ruling.
Bannon had pleaded not guilty to charges alleging he and three others defrauded donors in a $25 million fund to build portions of border wall along the U.S.-Mexico boundary.
After then-President Donald Trump issued a last-minute pardon for Bannon, federal prosecutors asked the judge to allow the indictment to stand anyway.
“As an example of lingering consequences of an outlying indictment, the government noted that a commodity broker’s application was denied and an instance in which a pardon did not preclude the government from considering the charged conduct in evaluating permit applications,” The Associated Press reported.
In August 2016, Trump named Bannon chief executive of his first White House run, a decision that largely saw Bannon replace then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Bannon would follow Trump into the White House but he was let go in April 2017 amid reports of feuding with other White House advisers including Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared Kushner.