Friday, May 24, 2019

Tales From The Trumpanzee Swamp


Calk (left) with Swamp Monster (right)

As Bess Levin wrote yesterday for Vanity Fair, "scoring a presidential favor or a gig in the administration is fairly straightforward: simply kiss the ring and/or line Trump’s pockets. Last week, disgraced businessman Conrad Black received a coveted pardon, and all he had to do to get it was write a fawning book about Trump. William Barr was hired as Attorney General after sending an unsolicited letter to the Justice Department decrying Robert Mueller’s obstruction probe. Three Mar-a-Lago members are secretly running the V.A. for the low, low cost $200,000, and the same goes for handbag designer Lana Marks, who was nominated to be the U.S. ambassador to South Africa last November. A $20 million donation to Trump’s presidential campaign was a small price for Sheldon Adelson to pay considering it meant the president personally lobbied the Prime Minister of Japan to give his buddy a coveted $25 billion casino license."

If Trump campaign advisor Stephen Calk was unsuccessful in his attempt to bribe the Trump Regime, he is one of the few who failed that low bar. Yesterday, the Washington Post's Renae Merle and Rosalind Helderman reported that the Chicago bank CEO was indicted for approving $16 million in loans to Manafort in exchange for his help seeking a top post in the regime. Calk "illegally used the bank’s resources to curry favor with Manafort, ignoring internal standards and lying to regulators, according to the indictment unsealed in the Southern District of New York. Calk gave Manafort a list ranking the administrative jobs he wanted, starting with Treasury Secretary."

Calk, who contributed a mere $2,700 to the Trumpanzee campaign, was a realist though and wrote that if a cabinet position was too much of a stretch he would be fine being appointed ambassador to the U.K. And just in case that was also a stretch, he included 18 less prestigious ambassadorships that Trump was selling. Manafort got him an interview as the perspective Undersecretary of the Army but he didn't get the gig.
“Stephen M. Calk abused the power entrusted to him as the top official of a federally insured bank by approving millions of dollars in high-risk loans in an effort to secure a personal benefit,” Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement.

Manafort was not named in the indictment, but the description of the borrower in the court filing matches that of the former Trump campaign chairman.

The indictment is a reminder of the financial crush that was facing Manafort during the same months when he was working as Trump’s campaign chairman, a job he won in part by arguing to Trump that he was independently wealthy and thus able to work for free.

At Manafort’s trial last year, prosecutors presented evidence that he was swimming in debt while working for the campaign and struggling to juggle mortgages on several pricey properties.

According to Calk’s indictment, Manafort took a break from his duties running Trump’s campaign on July 27, 2016, to attend an initial meeting in New York with a loan officer to discuss a multimillion-dollar loan. Calk joined by video and, according to prosecutors, told Manafort he would be interested in work on Trump’s campaign. That same day in Florida, Trump asked at a news conference if Russia could locate deleted emails belong to his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Calk did not testify at Manafort’s 2018 trial for bank and tax fraud, but other officers from his bank took the stand to describe the unusual process by which the bank approved a loan for Manafort.

Manafort was convicted at trial and later pleaded guilty to additional charges, including acting as an unregistered foreign agent while working for a Ukrainian politician before joining Trump’s campaign.

Manafort is now serving a 7½-year prison sentence. He began cooperating with authorities after his guilty plea. Prosecutors have told a judge that he provided evidence both to the special counsel’s investigation and to matters being handled by other prosecutors. References to those other investigations have been redacted from documents filed so far in Manafort’s case, but it is likely that Manafort provided evidence in Calk’s case.

Transcripts show that during a bench conference at Manafort’s trial last year, prosecutor Greg Andres described Calk as a “co-conspirator” who faced possible “criminal liability.”

Calk faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the charge of financial institution bribery.

In order of preference, these were the countries where Calk wrote the ambassadorship would be suitable for him:
The Holy See
How embarrassing for Switzerland and Austria! Manafort sent the list to Kushner-in-law (AKA- "Transition Official-1") with a note explaining that "Calk willingly risked his national professional and personal reputation as an active, vocal, early supporter of President-Elect Trump," and therefore should be rewarded. Makes sense, right? And, sure enough, Kushner replied "On it!" He didn't even ask, as far we we know, for a taste.

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At 6:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Southern District of New York could give lessons to Pelosi's lazy House.

At 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe. until they indict trump, it's all a dream.

the calk story is a story that's been repeated for 2 centuries. either they buy their position or the granting of patronage is understood to entail a future favor.

using other people's money is a crime. but the buying of ambassadorships is older than the usa.

At 6:48 PM, Blogger Procopius said...

I don't move in those circles, but it looks to me as if Calk offended somebody by harboring the delusion that he was a rich person, so should be able to do the things rich people do. As we have learned over the last few years, the 1% are not rich. Even the 0.1% are only "well-to-do." Only the 0.01% and above are truly rich. I think he's being prosecuted, even though he just did what "everybody" does, because he was acting "uppity."


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