Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon exits the Manhattan Federal Court, following his arraignment hearing for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S. August 20, 2020. (REUTERS)
Former top Trump strategist Steve Bannon, who was arrested this week for defrauding donors to a Mexico border wall fundraising campaign, has said he is the victim of a "political hit job".
"I'm in this for the long haul. I'm in this for the fight. I'm going to continue to fight," he said Friday on his podcast, Bannon's War Room.
"This was to stop and intimidate people that want to talk about the wall. This is to stop and intimidate people that have president Trump's back on building the wall."
Bannon, who is credited with orchestrating Donald Trump's 2016 presidential bid, on Thursday denied one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and another of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The 66-year-old was released on bail of $5 million.
Prosecutors said the online crowdfunding campaign known as "We Build the Wall" raised more than $25 million, which the defendants promised would go towards construction of a southern border barrier but siphoned off instead.
Once a prominent and trusted presidential ally, Bannon was behind some of US President Donald Trump's most controversial moves, including his ban on some travelers from abroad and the decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate change agreement.
After frequent clashes with others in the White House, including Trump, Bannon was pushed out in August 2017.
With the presidential election coming up in November, Trump looked to put distance between himself and his former adviser on Thursday.
"I think it's a very sad thing for Mr Bannon," Trump said.