Federal prosecutors are urging a recently indicted border-security advocate to clam up or face the possibility of a gag order limiting his ability to speak out publicly about the criminal case he is facing.
Lawyers from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan wrote to a federal judge Friday to ask her to warn “We Build The Wall” founder Brian Kolfage to stop “highly inflammatory” social media posts about the fraud and money laundering conspiracy indictment that led to his arrest last week along with former Trump White House strategist Steven Bannon.
Among the posts the prosecutors object to are several that paint the charges as political, echo President Donald Trump’s frequent claim that he is facing a “witch hunt,” describe the fundraising-related case as a deliberate effort to target Trump supporters, and suggest the arrests were timed to embarrass Trump on the eve of the Republican National Convention.
“The Witch Hunt is on!” Kolfage wrote in one Facebook post last week. “I’m not going to be bullied into being a political prisoner for my beliefs. I have fought hard for these freedoms and the SDNY [Southern District of New York] is on a all out assault to take down every Trump insider from the 2016 election, that means Bannon.”
Prosecutors said they aren’t demanding a gag order at this point, but want U.S. District Court Judge Analisa Torres to warn Kolfage at a hearing Monday to stop making statements that could affect a jury.
“The Government drew many of these posts to the attention of Kolfage’s attorney, and expressed concern about their potential effect on witnesses and victims (many of whom appear to follow Kolfage’s social media accounts), as well as the potential to taint a future jury pool,” prosecutors Nicolas Roos, Alison Moe and Robrt Sobelman wrote.
“Unfortunately, since bringing these concerns to the attention of counsel, the posts appear to have continued unabated since that conversation, and the Government has been given no assurances by counsel that Kolfage intends to refrain from such statements in the future,” the prosecutors added.
An attorney for Kolfage, Harvey Steinberg of Denver, did not respond to a request for comment.
While the arrests of Bannon, Kolfage and two other men drew a flurry of press attention last week, prosecutors asserted they had only made “a single short public statement” through a press release that they said “complied in all respects” with court rules.
Although the release contained boilerplate language indicating that the indictment was only an allegation, the announcement also used unusual language calling attention to Bannon’s wealth and Kolfage’s status as a triple-amputee veteran of the Iraq war.
“This case should serve as a warning to other fraudsters that no one is above the law, not even a disabled war veteran or a millionaire political strategist,” the Postal Service’s Inspector-in-Charge in New York, Philip Bartlett, said in the statement.