Paul Manafort recommended Stephen Calk, a Chicago banker involved in approving a loan at the center of Manafort’s financial fraud trial, as secretary of the Army, according to testimony Tuesday from star witness Rick Gates.
In an email shown to the jury, Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump, wrote to Gates on Nov. 24, 2016, “We need to discuss Steve Calk for Sec of Army. I hear the list is being considered this weekend,” the Washington Post reported. Gates, a longtime business partner of Manafort, had been working on the incoming president’s transition team.
In December 2016, Manafort sent an “urgent” email to Gates including Calk and Calk’s son on a list of people Manafort wanted to receive invitations to Trump’s inauguration.
Manafort is accused of filing fraudulent information to secure $16 million in loans from Calk’s bank. Calk, the founder and CEO of The Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, 300 N. Elizabeth, and two employees, Dennis Raico and James Brennan, could play key roles in the trial. Raico and Brennan were among 35 people on the prosecution’s initial witness list and are two of the five witnesses who secured immunity.
Calk spoke with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley on Nov. 16, 2016, at a Chicago business lunch, according to a letter sent by Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, to Calk, CNN reported. Calk never received a position in the Trump administration, though in August 2016, he was tapped to be on Trump’s economic advisory team.
Defense lawyer Kevin Downing began his cross-examination of Gates on Tuesday, accusing Gates of being immersed in “so many lies” he can’t remember them all and demanded to know how a jury could possibly trust him.
AP, Sun-Times staff reports, with Lynn Sweet contributing