Biden Justice Department denies Steve Bannon’s request to reimburse more than $1m in legal fees

Former Breitbart chief wanted legal fees incurred by Mueller probe repaid

John Bowden
Wednesday 16 June 2021 22:06 BST
Italy Bannon
Italy Bannon (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The Justice Department has denied a request by former White House strategist Steve Bannon to reimburse more than $1 million in legal fees he racked up during the investigation into President Donald Trump and his ties to Russia.

Insider reported on Tuesday that Mr Bannon made the request late last year. An email obtained by the news outlet dated 31 December 2020 indicated that Mr Bannon’s attorney, William Burck, wrote to an official at the Justice Department, and urged him to approve the request.

In the December email to Sal D’Alessio, acting director of the torts branch of the civil division of the Department of Justice, Mr Burck wrote that the plan to reimburse Mr Bannon allegedly had White House support, and that a statement confirming that was forthcoming.

“It is our understanding that the White House supports reimbursing Mr. Bannon’s attorneys’ fees,” wrote Mr Burck.

“We are in the process of obtaining a written statement confirming the White House’s agreement and will provide it to you as soon as possible,” he continued.

A source familiar with the situation told Insider that the Justice Department never acted on Mr Bannon’s request during the waning days of the Trump administration, and that the request was denied under the Biden administration by Brian Boynton, acting chief of the agency’s civil division.

Mr Bannon, formerly the head of right-wing news site Breitbart, joined the White House in 2017 and served for several months before being ousted by then-chief of staff John Kelly.

He would go on to testify for hours in front of investigators as part of the investigation into Mr Trump’s inner circle that led to criminal convictions for his former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, and others. The special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller lasted more than a year and led to numerous charges for various allies of the president, but none for Mr Trump himself or his family.

The top ally of Mr Trump also found himself in legal trouble last year when he was accused by the Justice Department of defrauding donors of a privately-funded campaign to build a section of border wall near the US-Mexico border, but saw that issue resolved with a pardon from the former president during his last day in office.

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