CHICAGO - The government's grip on former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort tightened again Wednesday. Manafort appeared in a federal courtroom in Washington, D.C., even as Special Counsel Robert Mueller prepared for another court hearing Friday in Virginia. That is a case in which Manafort has been linked to a Chicago bank and its CEO.
Manafort has been doing the defendant dance from one courtroom to another; different federal jurisdictions where the charges are stacked up and so is the potential prison sentence for a man who was once directing Donald Trump's march to the White House. According to court records examined by the ABC7 I-Team, if convicted the 68-year-old Manafort is looking at a potential of decades in prison.
On Wednesday it was D.C. district court where the government has charged him in a decades-long money laundering case. Manafort faces 15 to 19 years in the Washington case that was generated by Mueller's team of agents and attorneys that is targeting Russian election interference. The charges against Manafort are largely focused on his lobbying for Ukraine and alleged financial crimes, and have nothing to do with Russian collusion and the Trump administration.
A judge today set trial in the D.C. money laundering case for September 17th, the pinnacle of the midterm election campaign. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson chastised Manafort for issuing a statement on the latest charges against him, saying it violated her restrictions against public comments.
In the separate, federal case in Virginia Manafort is charged with tax violations and bank fraud. There, his legal exposure is another 15 years.
On Friday president trumps embattled ex-campaign chairman will make another walk into the Virginia eastern district courthouse.
In that case, according to court records newly filed Wednesday by special counsel Robert Mueller, the government plans to go after Manafort's property and money, including "all funds held in a certain account number at the Federal Savings Bank."
That is the bank in Chicago's Fulton Market district who's founder and chairman Stephen Calk has become the focus of federal scrutiny. Authorities have said the Trump backer's Federal Savings Bank loaned Manafort $16 million in mortgages. Tuesday, in a letter, top congressional Democrats asked the Pentagon for records of Calk's request for briefings related to his reported belief that he was in line to be secretary of the Army.
Stephen Calk has not been charged with wrongdoing in the cases against Manafort, or Manafort's business partner Rick Gates, who has pleaded guilty. Calk is currently embroiled in a big money Cook County divorce case, and as the I-Team reported last week his estranged wife has subpoenaed bank records pertaining to those Manafort loans. Neither Mr. Calk nor his attorney have responded to I-Team messages.
Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all the charges he faces, although numerous legal observers say he is under increasing pressure to strike a deal with prosecutors. The vast majority of federal cases end in plea agreements, allowing defendants to avoid costly trial defense tabs and potentially reduce the length of their sentences.