Trial of Manafort Lender Calk Begins at SDNY, Of Army Post and Brooklyn Brownstone

The prosecution zeroed in on Calk's meeting in Trump Tower, and the timing of the loans. The defense says they were great loans. Inner City Press is covering the trial.

By Matthew Russell Lee, PatreonPodcast
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, June 23 – After months of preliminaries, the trial of Stephen Calk for conspiracy to trade his bank's loans to Paul Manafort for the Secretary of the Army position began on June 23. Inner City Press live tweeted, here, previous coverage here,  podcast here

Judge Lorna G. Schofield is speaking to the jurors, who have just come in. "My duty is to instruction you on the law. You must take the law as I give it to you." We're in one of the 3 big courtrooms in 40 Foley Square, light streaming in through the tall windows

Judge Schofield: "The law presumes Mr. Calk to be innocent." If however after consideration of the evidence you are convinced that the government have proved its case, you must find him guilty... Opening statements, which you are about to hear, is not evidence

Judge Schofield: Mr. Calk is charged with financial institution bribery, and conspiracy to commit it.

 The government alleges that Mr. Calk, while CEO of The Federal Savings Bank, sought a senior position with the Trump administration through loans to Paul Manafort

 Judge Schofield: In the second charge, Mr. Calk is charged with conspiring with others to commit this financial institution bribery.  Finally, Judge Schofield is instructing the jurors who to handle their notebooks - leave them in the courtroom at night.

Judge Schofield, to the jurors: Don't go home and Google the case. Don't read any blogs, or Twitter. That's for after the trial. And now, the opening statement(s).

Assistant US Attorney: This is a case about greed. But not greed for money. Greed for power.

 AUSA: It's about this man [pointing], Stephen Calk, who gave out millions in loans to try to get a position. $16 million to Paul Manafort, a political lobbyist. This, for that. Loans, for influence. That is why we're here. Calk took a bribe from Paul Manafort.

 AUSA: In July of 2016, Manafort asked for a loan. He was running the presidential campaign for Donald Trump. The loan had red flags, but Calk pushed it forward. The bank made 2 loans. The first closed shortly after Election Night, the next 5 weeks later AUSA: Calk interviewed for the job at Trump Tower. Manafort got him in the room. When a reporter asked how he got on the campaign, he didn't say one word about Manafort. He didn't tell his board of directors. But he got caught and he's here to account for it. Inner City Press @innercitypress · 33m AUSA: The bank's money was FDIC insured. It had loan officers paid on commission. It has a credit committee of 3, including Calk. But Calk always got his way. He owned most of the bank. Manafort asked for $5.7 million on a property in California. They met in NYC

AUSA: Calk joined by video from Chicago. He offered to help with the campaign. The next day, the bank agreed to do the loan. Then Manafort asked for Calk's resume and asked him to join the Economic Advisory Council of the campaign, to advise President Trump

 AUSA: Meanwhile, the loan was undergoing underwriting. Problem were found. Manafort's credit score had dropped. He had earned no income in 2016. He had a credit card bill of $300,000 and faced foreclosure. And he had suspicious deals with foreign politicians.

 AUSA: The only thing the loan had going for it was collateral. But foreclosure is expensive. Manafort was a bad bet. Only two people were pushing the loan forward: the loan officer who was getting a commission, and Calk. And you'll find out what he was getting.

 AUSA: Manafort said there was a loan on the property. Calk said, No problem, the bank would pay off the loan. Manafort said he needed another million dollars. Calk told the loan officer to do it. At the closing table, Manafort proposed a totally new loan.

 AUSA: The night that President Trump won the election, Calk told Manafort the loan would be wrapped up the next day, whether or not another bank was on board. Calk offered to come to New York. He told the loan officer to ask Manafort is he was in the running for Secretary of the Treasury.

Calk had a list: Commerce, Defense. Ultimately he set his eyes on Secretary of the Army. He emailed Manafort a memo.

AUSA: The 1st loan closed a week after the election, for $9 million. And Calk got a recommendation for Secretary of the Army, he was added to a list. Manafort needed $6.5 million to finish construction on a brownstone in Brooklyn.

AUSA: Manafort asked a person in Trump Tower about Calk's status. The counter-offer was Deputy Secretary of the Army. Then Calk emailed the loan documents to Manafort, then flew to NY for an interview in Trump Tower. In total $16 million for this.

 AUSA: The bank's regulator called for an emergency meeting. Calk lied, and said he didn't want the government job. You're going to hear from people from this regulator. [The OCC - also dubious, see e.g. Otting and Brooks, watch this feed.] Calk wasn't qualified.

 AUSA: At the end of this case we'll ask you to consider all the evidence. And you'll reach the conclusion that Stephen Calk is guilty. Judge Schofield declared 10 minute break. 

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