Paul Manafort recommended a banker who allegedly loaned him money under false pretenses be nominated as President Donald Trump’s Army secretary, Rick Gates testified Tuesday.
Gates, who was working on Trump’s transition team, testified that Manafort had suggested Stephen Calk as a candidate for Army secretary two weeks after Trump was elected.
Manafort was Trump’s campaign chairman in summer 2016 but resigned before the election. Gates, Manafort’s longtime business partner and Trump’s deputy campaign chairman, was working on the transition team and the inauguration.
“We need to discuss Steve Calk for Sec of Army,” Manafort wrote to Gates on Nov. 24, 2016, in an email prosecutors showed the jury. He signed the email as “P.”
Manafort emailed Gates again two days before Christmas in 2016. He told Gates he had attached contact information for various people he wanted to go to Trump’s inauguration. That list included Calk and his son.
Manafort is on trial on 18 counts of tax and banking crimes in the first case brought to trial as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Calk was allegedly involved in having his bank, Federal Savings Bank, extend a mortgage to Manafort in 2016 based on fraudulent financial details, prosecutors say.
Calk never received a position in the Trump administration, though he had been named to Trump’s Economic Advisory Council in August 2016.
But Calk had spoken to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley on Nov. 16, 2016, at a Chicago business lunch, the Pentagon told Maryland’s Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, according to an April letter Cummings sent to Calk.
Calk is a retired Army officer and was a helicopter pilot while in the Army.
CNN reached out to Federal Savings Bank for comment on Gates’ testimony and did not immediately receive a response.
Prosecutors and Gates spoke about emails with Trump’s staff throughout 2016 during the court proceeding Tuesday afternoon. It was the first time the jury heard from a witness during Manafort’s financial fraud trial the extent of Manafort and Gates’ work for Trump’s presidential campaign and transition.