/Manafort Sought Trump Job For Alleged Briber; Eager Kushner Responded: On It!

Manafort Sought Trump Job For Alleged Briber; Eager Kushner Responded: On It!

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner was apparently eager to help when Paul Manafort sought a top Trump administration job for a banker who has since been charged with trading loans to Manafort for a position.

After the 2016 election, former Trump campaign chairman Manafort contacted Kushner seeking a major appointment for Stephen Calk, former CEO of The Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, according to evidence filed last year in Manafort’s tax fraud trial, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

“His preference is Secretary of the Army,” Manafort reportedly wrote in an email.

Kushner responded: “On it!”

Calk was accused in a federal indictment in New York unsealed Thursday of helping Manafort secure $16 million in loans in exchange for a senior position in the Trump administration. Manafort later defaulted on the loans. Prosecutors say he filed fraudulent financial information in order to obtain the money with Calk’s help.

There was no indication in court records that Kushner — who was a top Trump transition official at the time of Manafort’s request — was aware that Calk had helped obtain loans for Manafort. But the interaction reveals the influence wielded by Manafort, and an early taint of graft by a Trump operative. 

Kushner is not named in the Calk indictment. The date of an email referenced in the indictment sent to “Trump transition Official-1” is the same day after the election that Manafort emailed Kushner to recommend Calk and two other individuals for key jobs, according to the earlier evidence. (Manafort is identified as the “Borrower” in the indictment.)

Manafort said the three men he recommended for posts “will be totally reliable and responsive to the Trump white House.” The transition official in turn recommended Calk to three other transition team members, according to the Calk indictment.

The indictment also refers to a second, unnamed, Trump administration transition official who also took up Calk’s cause.

Manafort is now a convicted felon sentenced to almost 7 1/2 years on charges that include tax evasion and conspiracy to obstruct justice. After Manafort was arrested by federal authorities in 2017, Trump officials dismissed his importance to the campaign as “very limited.”

The indictment against Calk accuses him of being “engaged in a corrupt scheme to exploit his position” between July 2016 and January 2017 in order to “secure a valuable personal benefit for himself.” 

Calk interviewed for the role of under secretary of the Army at the Trump transition team’s New York offices in early January 2017, according to prosecutors. He didn’t get the job. 

He has been charged with one count of financial institution bribery, and faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison if convicted. He surrendered to authorities in Manhattan Thursday.

Calk’s lawyers have said their client has done nothing wrong.

A spokesman for Kushner’s attorney Abbe Lowell declined to comment to Bloomberg about Kushner’s link to Calk’s recommendation for an administrative post.

Calk’s dealings with Manafort were part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.