President Donald Trump said Thursday he feels "very badly" about the arrest of his former close adviser Steve Bannon, but he knows nothing about the fundraising organization involved in the federal criminal case.
"I haven't been dealing with him for a long period of time as most of the people in the room know," Trump told reporters. "He was involved in our campaign. He worked for a lot of companies, but he was involved likewise in our campaign and for a small part of the administration, very early on. I haven't been dealing with him at all."
Bannon and three others were arrested early Thursday on charges that they had "orchestrated a scheme to defraud hundreds of thousands of dollars" in connection with the “We Build The Wall” online fundraising campaign. He, group founder Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shaw are charged with using hundreds of thousands of dollars from the crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $25 million to build a wall along the southern border of the United States for their own purposes.
"I know nothing about the project other than I didn't like when I read about it, I didn't like it," Trump said. "I said this is for government, this isn't for private people. It sounded to me like showboating. I think I let my opinion be very strongly stated at the time I didn't like it. It was showboating and maybe looking for funds...I don't know that he was in charge. I don't know any of the other people either."
But when asked about others from the early part of his campaign and presidency who have been arrested and convicted, including confidant Roger Stone, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, campaign manager Paul Manafort, and attorney Michael Cohen, Trump turned the talk to the Obama administration.
"They spied on our campaign illegally and if you look at all of the things and all of the scandals they had, they had tremendous lawlessness," said Trump, continuing to insist he knew nothing about the private wall project.
"I don't think that should be a privately financed wall," he said. "It's too complex and too big. We're now up to 300 miles almost. In another week-and-a-half, we'll be up to 300 miles of wall at the highest level."
The private project was even having construction problems with a small area that was erected to show people they could build a wall, said Trump.
"They were having a lot of problems where it was toppling over and other things," said Trump. "I didn't like it because I didn't want to be associated with that. We built a very powerful wall. It was a wall that is virtually impossible to get through. It is very, very tough. It is very strong and it is everything the Border Patrol wanted and I didn't want to have a wall that was going to be an inferior wall. I felt this was going to be an inferior wall."
But Bannon had had a "great career" with Goldman Sachs and others, said Trump, insisting that "I haven't dealt with him at all over years now, literally years. And I guess this was a project he was involved in."
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