Inaugural tickets are latest issue in Manafort's dealings with Chicago banker
An invitation to President Trump’s inauguration is the latest example of how Paul Manafort allegedly sought to repay a Chicago banker whose institution lent him $16 million.
At Manafort’s trial in Virginia on Tuesday, prosecutors reportedly introduced emails suggesting that the onetime Trump campaign chair tried to reward Stephen Calk, who is CEO of The Federal Savings Bank. Prosecutors contend that the small Chicago bank made multimillion-dollar mortgages to Manafort even though he was in financial straits.
Some of what Calk allegedly got in return for the loans has been previously reported, but Tuesday’s court proceedings shed additional light on what happened. First, Calk was named in August 2016 to the Trump campaign’s 13-member economic advisory team. Then, during the presidential transition, Manafort proposed in an email that Calk be considered for secretary of the Army, according to news reports Tuesday. The Department of Defense has previously revealed two contacts that Calk had with Army officials in November 2016.
The following month, Manafort sent an email marked “urgent” to his longtime deputy, Richard Gates, that included a list of people he wanted to be invited to Trump’s inauguration, according to reports from the courtroom. Calk and his son were both on the list.
It was not clear from Tuesday’s trial coverage whether Calk and his son later received an invitation to the Jan. 20, 2017, inauguration, or whether they attended.
Gates served on President Trump’s inaugural committee before being charged alongside Manafort — and eventually agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors as part of a deal that included a guilty plea. He is a key witness in the government’s case against Manafort, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of bank fraud and tax fraud.
Court documents filed by prosecutors prior to the trial suggest that Manafort provided Federal Savings Bank with doctored profit-and-loss statements that overstated his political consulting firm’s income in 2015 and 2016 by more than $7.5 million. The Federal Savings Bank has portrayed itself as a victim of Manafort’s fraudulent conduct, while also saying that it is cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
But prosecutors have suggested in court filings that the $265 million-asset bank approved loans to Manafort, in spite of deficiencies that were identified by bank employees, because Calk was factoring in his own personal ambition. Calk’s name does not appear on the prosecution’s list of potential witnesses at the high-profile trial.
But two people who are on the witness list — Dennis Raico and James Brennan — appear to have worked for The Federal Savings Bank. Both of them have been granted immunity in exchange for their testimony, and both could be called to testify before prosecutors rest their case.