Rick Gates: Paul Manafort tried to get Secretary of the Army job for Chicago banker Stephen Calk, who loaned him millions

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The bank and tax fraud trial against former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has wandered into the political arena, led by a Chicago bank executive who loaned Manafort millions.

Manafort is on trial in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia where prosecutors allege that he failed to pay taxes on millions he made from his work for a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party, then lied to get loans when the cash stopped coming in.

Tuesday afternoon, Rick Gates testified that his then-business partner Manafort requested him to use his position in the Trump campaign to offer a series of favors to Stephen Calk, the founder and CEO of Federal Savings Bank, one of the banks that extended Manafort sizeable loans in 2016. Calk had been on Trump's small panel of economic advisors in the summer of 2016 when Manafort was campaign chairman.

In court on Tuesday assistant U.S. attorney Greg Andres handed Gates e-mails from Manafort, showing that Gates's former boss requested that he use his position in the Trump campaign to offer special favors to the founder and CEO of Chicago's Federal Savings Bank.

The first favor was discussed two weeks after Trump's election. Manafort pushed Calk's name as US Secretary of the Army, Gates testified. Calk's Federal Savings Bank had just loaned Manafort millions. According to Special Counsel Robert Mueller the loans were consummated under false pretenses.

"We need to discuss Steve Calk for Sec(retary) of the Army," Manafort wrote to Gates in the email dated Nov. 24, 2016. Manafort apparently had knowledge that there was an imminent decision to be made by the yet-to-be inaugurated president.

Calk did not get the position, but his relationship with Manafort and the Trump campaign and a possible "quid-pro-quo" is now under investigation by Democratic members of the House Oversight Committee. Calk and his bank have denied wrongdoing and he has not been charged with any crimes.

Calk did not appear to be present to an I-Team crew on Tuesday afternoon during a fire drill at Federal Savings Bank in Chicago's Fulton Market neighborhood. His car was also not parked in its usual spot.

The second favor came in December 2016 when Manafort wrote Gates an email he marked "urgent," that listed people Manafort wanted invited to Trump's inauguration in January. Included on the list was Calk and his son. It is unknown whether the Calks actually attended President Trump's inauguration.

Last month the ABC7 I-Team reported that federal prosecutors had publicly and officially identified Calk for the first time as the Chicago executive whose bank loaned millions of dollars to Manafort.

The Federal Savings Bank founder was named in a government filing in mid-July that displayed exhibits prosecutors intended to use against Manafort at trial.

According to the list of planned trial exhibits, the day before Calk was named to a 13-member Trump campaign economic advisory panel in August of 2016, Manafort emailed him regarding his professional biography.

The I-Team reported in April that shortly after President Donald Trump was elected Calk was in touch with top military personnel about becoming Secretary of the Army.

Calk met in Chicago on November 16, 2016 with "the Army's Chief of Staff" according to defense department documents obtained by a House Oversight Committee.

Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley was in Chicago during that time period and according to his social media posts that show him speaking at Soldier Field and meeting with Mayor Rahm Emanuel for Veteran's Day.

In February, the ABC7 I-Team learned and reported that Manafort's name was been dragged into Calk's high-dollar Chicago divorce case.

The I-Team learned that Manafort's two Federal Savings Bank loans were fodder in Calk's divorce from his wife Donna filed in Cook County court.

Records examined by the I-Team reveal that Donna Calk's attorneys issued a subpoena in April, 2017 to Federal Savings Bank for financial records including any loan files in Paul Manafort's name.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.