To be sure, the cast of characters that populated the saga of the 2016 Trump campaign narrative was diversified and sometimes prone to clumsiness. If you are familiar with the name Stephen Calk, then your recall of the cast of characters either briefly starring or appearing as bit players is astonishing.
In 2016, Calk was chairman of the Federal Savings Bank, based in Chicago, which made two loans totaling $16 million to Paul Manafort, whose real estate holdings were in financial difficulty. The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York revealed on May 23, 2019, an indictment against Mr. Calk for bribery, relying upon the loans as consideration for a senior appointment in the new administration.
Defense counsel for Calk characterized the charges as a travesty, that exoneration would emerge from trial, and that the loans were good business actions. Federal Savings, for its part, stated that there was no suggestion that the bank engaged in any wrongdoing.
Only days following the bank’s approval of the first loan, Calk was appointed to a campaign economic advisory committee by Manafort in the summer of 2016. Although Manafort had exited the campaign in August 2016, he made two calls to the Trump transition team in late 2016, recommending Calk for appointment as Secretary of the Army. One may surmise that the brief business relationship endured following Manafort’s exit. Loyalty, as it happens, is a prized quality in Trumpland.
Following Trump’s electoral victory, Mr. Calk emailed Manafort a copy of his resume and a list of desired appointments in the new administration. Defense counsel for Calk described his motives as he “felt the call to serve his country again and offered his vast business and military experience” to the new President. Manafort repeated his entreaty on Calk’s behalf in a December call to the transition team, urging his appointment. The list of desired positions enumerated 10 senior agency posts as well as 16 ambassadorships; it was titled
Stephen M. Calk Perspective Rolls
Whether or not a command of the English language is a prerequisite for Secretary of the Army was of no consequence to Manafort’s mission. From Calk’s perspective, it’s impossible to know whether he was referring to Kaiser or egg rolls. Imprisonment, however, is a reasonable prospective outlook for the former bank chairman. After default, the bank wrote off $12 million of the $16 million in loans. The lone successful event to emerge was that Calk, in fact, attended an interview in New York in January 2017 with the transition team. Otherwise, the moral of this tale recalls the nursery rhyme about a crooked man who walks a crooked mile. It’s all about the dough, baby!
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