If you followed DC Tribune‘s reporting on the Robert Mueller investigation, you’ll recall that we noted multiple times that Mueller handed off a number of criminal recommendations to other US Attorneys’ offices, a significant number of them to the Southern District of New York.
It looks like it’s time to chalk up another indictment for the SDNY based on Mueller’s work.
BREAKING / NBC NEWS: Bank CEO Stephen Calk has been indicted by a federal grand jury and charged in connection with a plan to exchange $16 million in loans to Paul Manafort for his help in getting Caulk a Trump administration position.
— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) May 23, 2019
Mueller’s Special Counsel released a trove of emails in August as part of his case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The emails were a series of exchanges between Manafort and Jared Kushner, sent just prior to the election. Both men have at times claimed that they held far less sway inside the Trump campaign than perhaps they had been portrayed as having, but the emails they sent back and forth show that each was lying — and that ethics had already gone out the window before the Trump administration even began.
In a stunningly blatant case of pay-for-play, Manafort emailed Kushner on November 30, 2016 to recommend that Steve Calk, the CEO of Federal Savings Bank, be given a position within the Trump administration — specifically that he should serve as the Secretary of the Army, a civilian position that reports to the Department of Defense.
Manafort even provided a list of credentials to Kushner detailing what qualifications Calk had to be nominated for the position.
The problem is, Manafort was not doing all of this on behalf of an old chum — he was holding up his end of a bargain that included a nearly $10 million loan for his own purposes, a loan that Calk himself signed off on in exchange for the Cabinet-level position.
If your brain hasn’t quite caught up with that yet, that’s pretty illegal, and not just on Manafort’s end. Yes, Manafort and Kushner end up cast as influence peddlers, but Calk himself may face a complex array of charges: He not only attempted to bribe his way into an administration position but approved an unorthodox lending scheme that would allow Manafort to take out that loan and others without triggering the federal “lending cap” to a single borrower.
But possibly the biggest blowback will be on President Trump, who was absolutely beside himself during the Manafort trial insisting that it had “nothing to do with the presidency.”
Uh, yeah. About that:
That one is from Manafort to Jared. The messages sent by Calk to support the recommendation for “perspective rolls [sic]” he might be appointed to in Trump’s Cabinet are like a wishlist:
The emails between Manafort and Calk are even more damning:
That email predates Calk’s appointment to a position in the Trump campaign — one he actually got through Manafort’s efforts.
And that email shows Manafort doing what Manafort does best: Asking for more money. Eventually, Calk apparently gave Manafort enough to satisfy him and he was appointed to Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers.
Reporting from NBC and others today on the Calk indictment all seem to leave out Kushner’s role, albeit small, in the scheme. The takeaway on Jared, of course, is the fact that Manafort — the Trump campaign manager at the time — came to him rather than the candidate in recommending someone for a role in the administration. That kind of activity inextricably ties Kushner to the inner workings of the campaign and calls into question his involvement in anything else that would have required top-level approval, such as high-profile foreign meetings, planned talking points in the case of Michael Flynn, and a whole host of various dealings that have since triggered the scrutiny of both lawmakers and federal investigators.
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