STEVE Bannon, who served as Donald Trump's chief strategist and had been charged with fraud, has been pardoned by the outgoing president.
Investigators say Bannon and three others ripped off donors to an online fundraising scheme to build a southern border wall.
Who is Stephen Bannon?
Stephen Bannon has been described as the "most dangerous political operative in America."
The 66-year-old was born into a poor family in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1953.
He signed up for the Navy after leaving college and spent four years at sea aboard a destroyer.
After leaving the Navy, Bannon attended Harvard Business School, where he received an MBA, before landing a job at Goldman Sachs.
He left the company in 1990 and started up Bannon & Co – a boutique investment bank specialising in media.
His company ended up working on MGM’s studio financing, and handling the acquisitions when Polygram Records moved into the film business.
He also ended up with a share in Seinfeld and produced films including Anthony Hopkins’s 1999 Oscar-nominated Titus.
From March 2012, Bannon was executive chairman of Breitbart News.
Under his leadership, the company became more far-right and nationalistic.
Bannon also directed Torchbearer, which follows controversial Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson.
The Trump supporter said homosexuality was sinful and was cited as the 2015 Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award.
Why was Steve Bannon arrested?
Bannon and three others ripped off donors to an online fundraising scheme, according to authorities.
The indictment alleges Bannon received over $1 million himself, using some to secretly pay co-defendant, Brian Kolfage, the founder of the project, and to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars of Bannon's personal expenses.
Prosecutors say Bannon promised that 100 percent of the donated money would be used for the project, but the defendants collectively used hundreds of thousands of dollars in a manner inconsistent with the organization’s public representations.
Charges included conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Bannon was arrested on a boat off the Eastern coast of Connecticut, according to CNN.
Bannon denied the charges.
The pardon nullifies the prosecution and effectively eliminates any prospect for punishment.
Why did Donald Trump pardon Steve Bannon?
Bannon, who clashed with other top advisers, was pushed out after less than a year. And his split with Trump deepened after he was quoted in a 2018 book making critical remarks about some of Trump's adult children.
Bannon apologized and soon stepped down as chairman of Breitbart.
He and Trump have recently reconciled.
"President Trump granted a full pardon to Stephen Bannon. Prosecutors pursued Mr. Bannon with charges related to fraud stemming from his involvement in a political project," the statement from White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany read. "Mr. Bannon has been an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen."
Trump was eager to pardon his former aide after recently reconnecting with him as he helped fan Trump's conspiracy theories about the election.
Trump has already pardoned a slew of longtime associates and supporters, including his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law; his longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone; and his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
How much is Steve Bannon worth?
Bannon is thought to have amassed a fortune somewhere between $20million and $48million dollars.
Forbes reported Bannon’s largest individual holding, worth between $5 million and $25 million, is his consulting firm, Bannon Strategic Advisors.
His film company, Bannon Film Industries, is worth between $1 million and $5 million.
In 2016 the company put out Clinton Cash, a scathing film based on the book Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.
Before he began working for Trump he was revealed to be taking a salary of $191,000 from Breitbart in 2016.
What is The Movement?
Bannon founded The Movement in 2017 in order to promote economic nationalism and right-wing populism in Europe.
The organisation is expected to hire ten full-time staff in Brussels before the European Parliament election in 2019.
The group's motive is to persuade EU nations to vote in candidates who are most aligned to The Movement's protectionist and conservative views.
Despite attracting the attention of Dutch leader of the opposition Geert Wilders, alongside Luigi Di Maio, leader of the Italian Eurosceptic party M5S, The Movement has been shunned by other populist parties.
Alternative for Germany's Alexander Gauland rejected it as an American conception and criticised its projections.
UKIP insisted his party has no intentions of joining The Movement and that UKIP "doesn't fit" into Bannon's proposals.
When was Steve Bannon hired by Donald Trump?
Bannon was appointed to become chief executive of Trump's presidential campaign on August 17, 2016. The choice was celebrated by former KKK leader David Duke.
Following his election win, Trump hired Bannon to become his chief strategist and senior counsellor in a move which drew heavy criticism.
John Weaver, a Republican political consultant who was John Kasich’s chief strategist, tweeted: "The racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office. Be very vigilant America."
Dan Pfeiffer, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, noted: “Nation exhales because white nationalist only gets second most influential job in White House.”
The day after Trump implemented his controversial travel ban which affected seven Muslim-majority countries, Bannon was given a seat on the US's National Security Council.
Bannon was previously featured on the cover of TIME magazine along with the headline 'The Great Manipulator'.
The publication also posed the question "is Steven Bannon the second most powerful man in the world?" with many commentators speculating he was the driving force behind some of Trump's most controversial policy moves.
Bannon was reportedly sacked from the White House by Donald Trump himself in August 2017.
Why didn't people want Stephen Bannon as Chief Strategist?
Bannon has been accused of being an anti-Semite and a far-right extremist.
His ex-wife Mary-Louise Piccard said in court documents filed in 2007 that he didn't want his daughters "going to school with Jews", which Bannon denied.
After Trump's shock election win, Bannon praised Star Wars villain Darth Vader in an interview in which he proclaimed "darkness is good".
He added: "Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That's power."
Less than a week after Trump was sworn in, Bannon used an interview to attack the mainstream media in the US after his boss sparked a public row over the crowds at his inauguration.
He said: “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.
“I want you to quote this. The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”
During the early 2000s, Bannon began working on more documentaries.
He wrote, co-produced and directed his own film in 2004, In The Face Of Evil: Reagan's War In Word And Deed.
Bannon has credited Reagan with spurring his own political view in the past.
He said last year: "I come from a blue-collar, Irish Catholic, pro-Kennedy, pro-union family of Democrats.
"I wasn't political until I got into the service and saw how badly Jimmy Carter f****d things up. I became a huge Reagan admirer. Still am.
"But what turned me against the whole establishment was coming back from running companies in Asia in 2008 and seeing that Bush had f****d up as badly as Carter. The whole country was a disaster."
Under his leadership, Breitbart pushed a nationalist, anti-establishment agenda and became one of the leading outlets of the so-called alt-right – a movement often branded far-right with a fringe "white nationalist element" that opposes multiculturalism and defends "Western values".
Examples of headlines on the site include: "Would you rather your child had feminism or cancer?" and "Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy".
Both those articles were written by Breitbart's resident British polemicist Milo Yiannopoulos.
In April 1995, Bannon married his second wife Mary-Louise Piccard, who accused him of domestic violence less than a year later.
The charges were later dropped when his now ex-wife did not show up to court.
Why did Bannon leave Breitbart News?
In his first interview since leaving the White House, Bannon wasted no time in expressing his loyalty to Trump.
Bannon, who also revealed he returned to lead Breitbart, said he would continue to fight and campaign for the populist agenda which took Trump to power.
He said: "I've got my hands back on my weapons. It's Bannon the Barbarian."
Following Bannon's departure, Trump tweeted: "I want to thank Steve Bannon for his service. He came to the campaign during my run against Crooked Hillary Clinton – it was great! Thanks S."
After returning to Breitbart after leaving the White House he left the company in January 2018 after controversial remarks about Trump's family were revealed in Michael Wolff's book Fire and Fury.
In a story posted on Breitbart’s website it was announced: “Stephen K Bannon has stepped down from Breitbart News Network, where he served as Executive Chairman since 2012. Bannon and Breitbart will work together on a smooth and orderly transition.”
Bannon said: “I’m proud of what the Breitbart team has accomplished in so short a period of time in building out a world-class news platform.”
More recently he has travelled the world meeting with ultra conservative or populist movements.
In a Sunday Times interview he commented on British politics, claiming Tory Boris Johnson – under fire for comparing women in full-face burka to letterboxes – would make a "great prime minister."
More controversially Tommy Robinson, founder of the now-defunct English Defence League.
He compared 35-year-old Robinson to rapper Kanye West, describing him as a rising star and a "force of nature."
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