White House asked for paper trail on Chicago banker Stephen Calk

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Even though the immediate criminal cases against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort have ended, a Chicago banker who was caught up in the scandal may not be out of the woods.

Stephen Calk, the founder and president of Federal Savings Bank in Chicago's Fulton Market neighborhood, is suspected of plotting with Manafort to defraud his own bank when he pushed approval of the loans in hopes of winning a senior post in President Donald Trump's administration, prosecutors said.

Calk has also been under investigation by Democratic members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who on Friday sent a letter to the White House requesting documents relating to efforts by senior White House officials, including senior adviser Jared Kushner, to secure a high-level position for Calk.

The Chicago bank executive has not been charged, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and said that he was cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Records used by prosecutors in Manafort's Virginia fraud trial show that Calk's bank lent $16 million to the former Trump campaign chairman about the same time he was angling for Secretary of the Army.

Manafort turned to Kushner for job placement help, according to testimony in Manafort's trial on bank and tax-fraud charges.

"On it!'' Kushner replied on Nov. 30, 2016, according to an email submitted by prosecutors into evidence. As the I-Team reported five months ago, Calk lobbied Pentagon officials concerning a high-level position.

Calk was on candidate Trump's economic advisory panel when Manafort was campaign chairman during the summer of 2016. While seemingly interested in any high-level administration position, the veteran and military supporter fancied himself as a Trump loyalist who could oversee U.S. Army operations as secretary. According to trial records Manafort then sought help from Kushner, Trump's son-in-law.

The Chicago banker was never selected for any government position but some House committee members continue on his case-investigating "an apparent quid pro quo for providing millions of dollars in loans to President Trump's former campaign chairman." Friday's request for White House records is their latest effort to resolve questions that they claim Republicans don't want answered.

"These documents raise significant questions about the actions Mr. Kushner or others took in response to Mr. Manafort's request," the Democratic leaders wrote in their letter. "Mr. Manafort had been fired from the Trump campaign months earlier and was the subject of a publicly-known FBI investigation, yet Mr. Kushner responded on the same day appearing to agree to take swift action."

Calk did not respond to I-Team messages left on Friday. Calk's name has been linked with Manafort, even in a Cook County divorce case brought by Calk's wife.

The most potent witness in any potential action involving Calk could be Manafort himself. The ex-Trump campaign boss is now cooperating with Mueller's investigators following a plea deal struck with prosecutors last week in Washington. He admitted to having been involved in a scheme to defraud Chicago's Federal Savings Bank.

A month ago during his first criminal trial it appeared that Manafort might have moved beyond the bank fraud charges, as a federal jury was hung on several counts, including four relating to Federal Savings Bank.
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