The fact that the acceptance of a pardon is an admission of guilt poses a serious dilemma for Bannon, who has been accused, along with others, of defrauding donors who wanted to contribute to building Trump’s infamous “wall” along our southern border. Bannon originally proclaimed his innocence, vowed to fight the charges and asserted “this entire fiasco is to stop people who want to build the wall.” If he now goes into court and accepts the pardon to have the charges dismissed, he will thereby admit his guilt – in direct contradiction of his earlier protests of innocence.
Even if, as is likely, Bannon is prepared to invoke the pardon and thus admit his guilt, the resulting dismissal of the charges against him may not be the end of his entanglement in the border wall fundraising fraud. No doubt, Bannon has highly important testimony about the alleged scheme. Since acceptance of the pardon would protect Bannon from federal prosecution, the U.S. attorney may well decide to give Bannon formal “testimonial” immunity to force him to testify against his co-defendants or others involved in the fraudulent scheme. With this protection, Bannon would have no basis to refuse to testify. If he tried to clam up, he would be sent to jail for contempt.
In addition to calling Bannon as a witness against his co-defendants at their trial, the prosecutors could call him before a grand jury to question him about the possible culpability of others not yet indicted. In either case, if Bannon falsely denies facts establishing his own guilt, or that of his co-defendants, he will expose himself to prosecution for perjury. Since any perjury will occur after the pardon was issued, the pardon will not protect him from prosecution for a new crime.