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Friday, 21 August 2020

'This is private enterprise at its finest': Donald Trump Jr praises 'amazing' fundraising efforts of We Build The Wall in 2019 and shows off customized gun he received from the group he now claims 'deceived' him

A video of Donald Trump Jr praising We Build The Wall at an event last year has emerged after the group's leader Brian Kolfage and former top Trump aide Steve Bannon were arrested for allegedly running a crowd-funded border wall scam. 
Don Jr, the eldest son of President Donald Trump, gave a 15-minute speech at the 'Symposium at the Wall: Cartels, Trafficking and Asylum' event in July 2019, during which he gushed about the groups efforts to raise money for a border wall. 
'This is what capitalism is all about. This is private enterprise at its finest,' Don Jr says as he holds hands with Kolfage, a Purple Heart recipient and triple-amputee.
'Doing it better, faster, cheaper than anything else. What you guys are doing is amazing.'  
The video of the speech was cast in a whole new light on Thursday after federal prosecutors charged Bannon, Kolfage and two others with defrauding hundreds of thousands of people out of $25million donated to the fundraising campaign. 
A spokesperson for Don Jr - who himself donated to the effort - has since said that he was 'deceived' by the fraudsters. 
Donald Trump Jr praised We Build The Wall and its leader Brian Kolfage during a speech at an event last year. Video of the speech resurfaced after Kolfage and former top Trump aide Steve Bannon were arrested for allegedly defrauding hundreds of thousands of people out of $25million donated to We Build The Wall's fundraising campaign
Donald Trump Jr praised We Build The Wall and its leader Brian Kolfage during a speech at an event last year. Video of the speech resurfaced after Kolfage and former top Trump aide Steve Bannon were arrested for allegedly defrauding hundreds of thousands of people out of $25million donated to We Build The Wall's fundraising campaign
'This is what capitalism is all about. This is private enterprise at its finest,' Don Jr says as he holds hands with Kolfage, a Purple Heart recipient and triple-amputee 
Don Jr praises the wall-building work of Brian Kolfage in 2018
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We Build The Wall gave Don Jr a customized gun after he visited a section of the wall they built in New Mexico in July 2019. Don Jr has since said he may have been 'deceived' by the group
We Build The Wall gave Don Jr a customized gun after he visited a section of the wall they built in New Mexico in July 2019. Don Jr has since said he may have been 'deceived' by the group
Another image tying Don Jr to the group also resurfaced on Thursday, showing the president's son holding a customized gun gifted to him by We Build The Wall. 
'Our special gift to Donald Trump Jr for taking the time to visit the border wall we built. A custom We Build The Wall Springfield 1911,' the group wrote in a Facebook post on July 30, 2019. 
The photo shows Don Jr standing alongside his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle and We Build The Wall advisory board members Mary Ann Mendoza and Steve Ronnebeck on a private plane after they stopped by a section of the wall in Sunland Park, New Mexico.   
Kolfage launched We Build The Wall in 2018 by setting up a GoFundMe campaign that pledged to build barriers along the border in Texas and New Mexico, some of which have already been erected. 
The online appeal for funds included a picture of President Trump and a stamp that said 'Trump Approved'. 
But prosecutors say it was a scam, as donors' cash was also funneled to Bannon and Kolfage.  

Kolfage launched We Build The Wall in 2018 by setting up a GoFundMe that pledged to build barriers along the border in Texas and New Mexico. The online appeal for funds included a photo of President Trump and a 'Trump Approved' stamp
Kolfage launched We Build The Wall in 2018 by setting up a GoFundMe that pledged to build barriers along the border in Texas and New Mexico. The online appeal for funds included a photo of President Trump and a 'Trump Approved' stamp
Bannon, who helped steer Trump's campaign then joined him in the White House in 2017 as chief strategist only to be forced out, is accused of getting $1million in the alleged scheme and spending hundreds of thousands of that on 'expenses'. 
Kolfage is also accused of fraudulently pocketing funds. He claimed he did not get a cent from the scheme but instead got $100,000 up front and $20,000 a month salary, prosecutors allege, living a lavish lifestyle at Miramar Beach in the Florida panhandle.
The Iraq war veteran, who had both legs amputated and lost his right arm in a rocket attack, was arrested at his home in Florida and later released.
Meanwhile Bannon was arrested on a yacht owned by exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui off the coast of Connecticut. 
The both men are facing one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Bannon pleaded not guilty on Thursday afternoon and was released on $5million bail.  
Bannon is accused of getting $1million in the alleged scheme and spending hundreds of thousands of that on 'expenses'. He is seen leaving Manhattan federal court on Thursday after he pleaded not guilty to fraud charges and posted $5million bail
Bannon is accused of getting $1million in the alleged scheme and spending hundreds of thousands of that on 'expenses'. He is seen leaving Manhattan federal court on Thursday after he pleaded not guilty to fraud charges and posted $5million bail 
Kolfage, 38, is accused of fraudulently pocketing funds that he used to fund his lavish lifestyle in Florida. He is pictured with his TikTok star wife Ashley, 33, on their boat
Kolfage, 38, is accused of fraudulently pocketing funds that he used to fund his lavish lifestyle in Florida. He is pictured with his TikTok star wife Ashley, 33, on their boat 

Don Jr has since defended his previous support of the group and claimed he may have been 'deceived'.   
'Don gave one speech at a single We Build The Wall event over a year ago with a group of angel moms and besides that, has no involvement with their organization,' his spokeswoman Amanda Miller said. 
'He never gave them permission to use him as a testimonial on their website and was unaware they included him as one until today's media reports about it. 
'His previous praise of the group was based on what he was led to believe about their supposed intention to help build the wall on our southern border and if he and others were deceived, the group deserves to be held accountable for their actions.' 
A Facebook page run by Kolfage indicates that his links to Don Jr ran deeper than the president's son was letting on. 
The page spent $185,000 on ads, including some asking for wall-building donations, according to Insider. 
In one ad posted in December, Kolfage promised a 'FREE Donald Trump Jr Autographed Book with donation to We Build The Wall Inc! DO NOT MISS OUT!'
Meanwhile, President Trump sought to distance himself from the fiasco and said he didn't know anything about the scheme despite its ties to his inner circle. 
'I don't like that project,' he told reporters in the Oval Office. 'I thought it was being done for showboating reasons. It was something I very much thought was inappropriate to be doing.'
 He also tried to distance himself from his former campaign manager Bannon, saying: 'I feel very badly. I haven't been dealing with him for a very long period of time. 
'I haven't been dealing with him at all. It's a very sad thing by Mr Bannon. He was involved in our campaign and for a small part of our administration.'   
In fact Bannon was the campaign CEO for its last 88 days after the ousting of Paul Manafort - who is now a convicted felon himself - and then was Trump's 'Chief Strategist,' with a West Wing office close to the Oval Office. 
Just weeks ago, Trump tweeted out his dissatisfaction with the wall project after the group built a section of wall just 35 feet from the Rio Grande river on the US-Mexico border, leading to concerns about erosion and flooding.
'I disagreed with doing this very small (tiny) section of wall, in a tricky area, by a private group which raised money by ads,' Trump tweeted. 'It was only done to make me look bad, and [perhaps] it now doesn't.' 

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