Kushner Replied ‘On It!’ After Manafort Sought Post for Banker

Greg Farrell
Manafort Banker Charged With Bribery in Seeking Trump Post

(Bloomberg) -- Shortly after Donald Trump’s 2016 election, his onetime campaign chief Paul Manafort wrote to Jared Kushner to ask the incoming administration to consider giving a “major appointment’’ to Manafort’s banker.

“On it!” Kushner replied to Manafort on Nov. 30, 2016.

That email exchange, which was admitted as evidence during Manafort’s tax-fraud trial last year, gained new significance Thursday with the unsealing of a federal indictment in New York. The new filing accused the banker, Stephen Calk, of extending loans to Manafort as part of an effort to bribe his way into a plum administration job.

Read More: Manafort Banker Charged With Bribery in Seeking Trump Post

Manafort, though not identified by name in the latest filing, is the borrower who advocated with transition officials on Calk’s behalf. Those efforts included a Nov. 30 email from Manafort to a “Transition Official-1.” The indictment doesn’t identify that official. But Kushner exchanged an email with Manafort that same day about Calk, according to the evidence that was previously made public in Manafort’s trial.

The indictment refers to a second transition official who also took up Calk’s cause, a further indication that people inside Trump’s circle may face pressure from prosecutors in New York.

The Calk indictment lays out how Manafort, a former Trump campaign chairman, faced mounting financial pressure and turned to Calk’s Federal Savings Bank for a series of loans.

Seeking $6.5 million, Manafort emailed a loan officer and Calk on Nov. 30, 2016, saying the “clock is ticking,” according to the indictment. That same day, Manafort recommended Calk to the unidentified senior member of the presidential transition team’s executive committee.

“The next day, Transition Official-1 forwarded this recommendation to three other representatives” of the transition team, recommending Calk, prosecutors wrote. The Chicago banker’s name was entered into a tracking spreadsheet maintained by the transition team.

Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Kushner attorney Abbe Lowell, declined to comment.

The emails admitted in court last year show that on Nov. 30, 2016, Manafort wrote to Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, who was a top transition official and is now a senior White House adviser. Manafort told Kushner about Calk and two other candidates for administration jobs who he called “supporters since before the nomination was secured and have been active in the campaign.”

“They will be totally reliable and responsive to the Trump White House,” Manafort wrote. Kushner’s two-word response came later that day. There’s no indication in the filings that Kushner was aware of Manafort’s efforts to seek loans from Calk.

The new indictment fills in details about Manafort’s advocacy of Calk. Although Manafort had left Trump’s campaign more than two months before the election, he assured Calk that he still had good connections with the incoming administration, prosecutors wrote in the indictment.

On Nov. 12, 2016, Calk and Manafort had an 18-minute phone conversation. Two days later, Calk emailed his professional biography and a list of positions he sought, starting with Treasury Secretary and including Defense Secretary, and ranked them in order, prosecutors said.

“Are you aiding in the transition in any type of formal capacity,” Calk wrote in a Nov. 14 email to Manafort, according to the indictment.

“Total background but involved directly,” Manafort replied.

“Awesome,” Calk wrote.

On Nov. 16, “with Calk’s approval,” the bank closed on the $9.5 million loan to Manafort, prosecutors said.

Conversations about the additional $6.5 million, and Manafort’s advocacy of Calk with transition officials, came just two weeks later.

Manafort was granted the loan on Jan. 4, 2017. Calk’s candidacy was advanced, and he was interviewed for an under secretary of the Army post six days later. He ultimately didn’t get an administration post.

In a statement on Thursday, Calk’s lawyers said their client hadn’t done anything wrong, the loans were sound and Calk wasn’t involved in bringing Manafort to the bank.

(Updates with no-comment line from Kushner lawyer.)

--With assistance from Neil Weinberg, David Voreacos, Caleb Melby and Bob Van Voris.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Farrell in New York at gregfarrell@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeffrey D Grocott at jgrocott2@bloomberg.net, David S. Joachim

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