Former political consultant for the Trump campaign, Roger Stone, replied “karma is a b****” when he was asked his reaction to Steve Bannon‘s arrest.
Stone, a veteran Republican operative who has a tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back, served as an adviser to Mr Trump during the 2016 campaign. He has been accused of collaborating with WikiLeaks to discredit Hillary Clinton in the build up to that election.
In November 2019, following Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s involvement in Russia hacking the 2016 election, Stone was indicted by federal prosecutors on seven counts, including witness tampering and lying to federal investigators.
He was found guilty and sentenced to 40 months in federal prison, but on 10 July 2020, Mr Trump commuted Stone’s sentence after he publicly pleaded for him to do so.
Bannon, who previously served as the president’s campaign chairman in 2016, was indicted on Thursday, alongside two others, for allegedly funnelling “hundreds of thousands of dollars” from the “We Build the Wall” online fundraising campaign to the founder of the organisation Brian Kolfage, who was also indicted.
“We Build the Wall” started as a GoFundMe campaign in 2018, and was created to help raise money from public funding to go directly towards building the the US-Mexico border wall at a time when the president was struggling with Congress pushback.
In a press release, acting US attorney Audrey Strauss said: “As alleged, the defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalising on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretence that all of that money would be spent on construction.”
After Bannon was arrested, New York Magazine asked Stone his thoughts, to which he replied: “Karma is a b****. But I am praying for him.”
Bannon, who worked with Stone during the 2016 election, testified during the former adviser’s trial in November 2019, and contradicted his testimony in regards to WikiLeaks.
Stone had denied to the investigation and to Congress about being in contact with WikiLeaks, prior to the group releasing emails of Ms Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta.
However, during his testimony, Bannon said: “He had a relationship, or told me he had a relationship with WikiLeaks,” and added: “I was led to believe he had a relationship with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.”
In reaction to the arrests on Thursday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany released a statement, where she attempted to distance the president from the campaign and Bannon.
“As everyone knows, President Trump has no involvement in this project and felt it was only being done in order to showboat, and perhaps raise funds,” she said.
A follow up statement from the White House read: “President Trump has not been involved with Steve Bannon since the campaign and the early part of the administration, and he does not know the people involved with this project.”
However, Trump ally Kris Kobach told the New York Times last year that he had spoken to Mr Trump about the project, and added that “the president said ‘the project has my blessing, and you can tell the media that.’”