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Stephen Calk, the Chicago banker emerging as a key figure in the Manafort case

Stephen M. Calk, founder and chairman of The Federal Savings Bank, made the maximum contribution to Donald Trump's presidential campaign around the time his bank gave $16 million in loans to ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Stephen M. Calk, founder and chairman of The Federal Savings Bank | Provided photo

WASHINGTON — “Nervousness is setting in.”

That is the intriguing subject line in a Dec. 7, 2016, email from Chicago bank executive Stephen Calk to colleague Dennis Raico, revealed in an updated exhibit list prosecutors filed on Tuesday at the kickoff of the financial crimes trial of Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager.

Calk, the founder and CEO of The Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, 300 N. Elizabeth, and two of his employees loom over the Manafort case. They could turn out to be key players in the first trial for special counsel Robert Mueller and his team.

Mueller’s prosecutors decided to grant immunity to Raico and another bank employee, James Brennan. They are on the witness list in Manafort’s trial in an Alexandria, Va., federal courthouse. Manafort is accused of filing fraudulent information to secure $16 million in loans from Calk’s bank.

Another new item placed on the updated exhibit list on Tuesday that could tell more about Calk and Manafort: Raico’s journal.

Raico and Brennan are among 35 on the prosecution’s initial witness list – and are two of the five witnesses who secured immunity.

It’s not clear yet why Calk is not on the witness list while his employees are.

Raico and Brennan may have the answers – whether there was a quid pro quo concerning the loans and Calk’s quest for a role in the Trump campaign and White House.

Attorneys familiar with these types of prosecutions said immunity grants are most often given to the “smaller fish” who figure in a case.

Calk was nervous because theory one, it was dawning on Calk that he might not be on a path for Trump to appoint him Secretary of the Army – or to any job in the Trump administration, or theory two, there were problems with the loan.

While Mueller is leading a probe of the efforts of the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, Manafort’s role in the Trump campaign is not expected to be a factor in the trial – with the Calk chapter in this saga the exception.

Timeline highlights

The emails on the exhibit list suggest there is a connection between the Manafort loan and Calk getting a position on the Trump campaign. Prosecutors may decide to argue that Calk made sure Manafort got his loan because he wanted positions in the campaign and administration.

*The first email in the prosecutors exhibit list with Calk’s name is July 28, 2016, between Calk, Racio and maybe others about a “revised portfolio summary.”

*On Aug. 3, 2016, the subject line on an email from Raico to Manafort said “Need S. Calk Resume.”

*On Aug. 4, 2016,  the subject line from Manafort to Calk said “re S. Calk professional bio”

*On Aug. 5, 2016, the Trump campaign announced that Calk was tapped to be on Trump’s economic advisory team.

Who is Stephen Calk?

*He is a Kenilworth resident, according to Cook County voting records.

*Calk was born Oct., 23, 1954, the same records show.

*He has pulled Republican ballots in Illinois primaries from 2010 through 2016, with no record of his voting in the Illinois primary last March.

*Calk has not taken on any leading role in Illinois or national politics.

*According to Calk’s bio on his bank website, he was commissioned as an Army officer on May 25, 1985, and is a “graduate of the United States Army Aviation School and served in both active and reserve status as a combat tactical helicopter pilot and commander for over 16 years.”

*The same bio notes he attended the West Point prep school – that is not the same as being accepted into West Point.

*Calk received an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana and an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School. He has taken some classes for executives  at Harvard’s Business School.