Twitter consensus: "This is art." Courtroom sketch
Of all the mind-bending items on our dystopian bingo card, we did not have greasy White House strategist and Nazi wannabe Steve Bannon getting pulled off a sketchy Chinese billionaire's $28-million yacht to be arrested and charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering for stealing maybe a million bucks from donors to the private, racist, always-questionable "We Build the Wall" project. The indictment, unsealed by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, charged that Bannon, project founder Brian Kolfage, and two others defrauded thousands of donors under the pretense that all $25 million raised by the project would go to wall construction, when in fact "the defendants secretly schemed to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars" to both Kolfage and Bannon to fund their "lavish lifestyle." Not only did they lie to donors, prosecutors charge, but they created fake invoices and accounts "to launder donations and cover up their crimes, showing no regard for the law or the truth," which seems to be going around a lot these days. The irony-defying kicker to the story: Bannon was arrested by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), which is the federal law enforcement and criminal investigating arm of....the Post Office. New York's USPIS Inspector-in-Charge called the case "a warning to other fraudsters that no one is above the law." Twitter users, none of whom even knew the postal service had cops, happily called the story's wild mix of elements the long-awaited proof of "boater fraud," and began eagerly envisioning the movie version of "USPS: Crime Scene Investigation."
Bannon - who once claimed, "Darkness is good: Dick Cheney, Darth Vader, Satan. That's power" and who last week appeared on Fox News to argue "Democrats want death and destruction," proving how much he's evolved - was taken off the 151-foot yacht Lady May, anchored off the Connecticut coast, early Thursday morning. The boat's owner is a high-profile Chinese real-estate tycoon and possible felon who's either an asylum-seeker or a spy; he's also a member of Mar-a-Lago, which is why Trump reportedly stepped in to stop his deportation. (Trump and his peeps seem to have a thing for boats: Kolfage allegedly spent $350,000 of stolen money on the fishing boat "Warfighter," which he drove in a July 4th "Boaters for Trump" parade giddily praised by Trump: "There are thousands and thousands of boats...Some of the boats have 10 flags on them!") Hours after his arrest, Bannon appeared by video, in handcuffs, for his arraignment in Manhattan Federal Court; he pleaded not guilty, and was released on a $5 million bond. Trump quickly tried to distance himself from yet another flunky's indictment - he hadn't seen Bannon in ages, he never liked the Wall project - but slimy stories oozed out: He'd given it his blessing, he'd steered either $400 million or $1 billion its way, little Donnie had praised it as "private enterprise at its finest." And at the end of the sordid day there remained, despite all his fakery, the ruinous, memorable courtroom sketch of Bannon - in handcuffs, distress, unruly pandemic hair and just one shirt, because the law evidently caught him off guard. Sweet justice. A steal from Portland's own Holy Donuts: If loving donuts/this image is wrong, I don't wanna be right.