A new report from NBC News examines the possibility that former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, attempted to use his position with the campaign to work a deal with a Chicago banker.
According to the deal, Manafort may have promised the banker a White House job, in return for $16 million in home loans.
Manafort received three separate loans in December 2016 and January 2017 from Federal Savings Bank for homes in New York City, Virginia and the Hamptons.
The banker, Stephen Calk, president of the Federal Savings Bank, was announced as a member of candidate Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers in August 2016.
So was there quid pro quo?
What we know is that Manafort stepped away from the team in August 2016. This was after the RNC convention in Cleveland, where he was instrumental in crafting the new, softer language in the GOP platform towards Russia’s activity in Ukraine.
It was also after it was found he’d made millions from working for the pro-Russia party in Ukraine.
Calk did not, ultimately, get a job with the White House.
Officials with the bank have said they felt pressured to approve 3 loans. At least one of those bank officials is working with investigators.
In court filings Friday related to Manafort’s bail, federal prosecutors said they have “substantial evidence” that a loan made from the bank to Manafort using the Virginia and Hamptons properties as collateral was secured through false representations made by Manafort, including misstatements of income.
NBC News reached out to the White House, asking if there was any effort by Manafort to secure a position for Calk.
Calk’s representatives aren’t talking, either.
Jason Maloni, a spokesperson for Manafort, referred NBC News to his previous statements saying that Manafort’s loans were over-collateralized and above-market rate. He would not respond to specific questions regarding the Federal Savings Bank loans.
The existence of a federal probe of Calk and the Federal Savings Bank by the U.S. Attorney’s Office was first reported by Bloomberg News.
On Wednesday, a new charging document was added to the Manafort/Gates case in federal court in Washington, D.C. The charging document is sealed, so it is not known if it is a new charge or charges or a superseding indictment.
Mueller’s team are keeping tight-lipped, as well, and they’ve done a fine job of keeping leaks from making it public.
Regarding Manafort’s home loans, there’s a lot of fast-hand action there, it seems.
On the same day he left Trump’s campaign, August 19, 2016, he formed a holding company called Summerbreeze LLC. Several weeks later, a UCC form was filed with the state of New York, showing that the company had taken out a loan of $3.5 million on Manafort’s home in a beach enclave called Bridgehampton.
Manafort’s name does not appear on the UCC filing, but Summerbreeze LLC gives his Florida address as a contact, and lists his Bridgehampton home as collateral, as NBC News previously reported.
The loan was provided by a company called SC3 capital and according to Manafort’s spokesperson the note was meant to be a bridge loan.
That loan was paid off in December.
Manafort’s LLC, Summerbreeze, then took out a new $9.5 million loan in December using the Hamptons property and house in Alexandria, Virginia, as part of the collateral. The lender was Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, whose chief executive, Calk, was an economic adviser to the Trump campaign.
In January 2017 Federal Savings Bank also lent Manafort and his wife mortgage loans in the amount of $5.3 million and $1.2 million for a separate property located at 377 Union Street in Brooklyn, New York.
And this is questionable – the loans for the 377 Union property amounted to $6.5 million, on property purchased for less than $3 million.
According to FDIC records, loans to Manafort from the Federal Savings Bank made up 5 percent of all loans by the bank. Two properties in the Hamptons and Brooklyn received $16 million in loans.
Mueller’s team had the loans, at first, but after finding no clear connection to the Russia probe, this investigation was turned over to prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.
That’s not to suggest Mueller has no interest in how Manafort is moving his money around.
Mueller’s team told a federal judge in response to the filing that at the next bail hearing, “We can proffer to the Court additional evidence related to this and the other bank frauds and conspiracies, which the Court may find relevant to the bail risk posed by Manafort.”
They think he’s a flight risk.
It’s that serious.