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Manafort got US$16-million in loans from bank CEO seeking Trump cabinet post, court told

The defense team for Paul Manafort, including Kevin Downing, right, and Jay Nanavati, far left, walks to federal court as the trial of the former Trump campaign chairman continues, in Alexandria, Va., Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Jacquelyn Martin/The Associated Press

The chief executive officer of a small Chicago bank that approved US$16-million in loans to former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort was seeking a post in the new administration, a witness testified on Friday in Mr. Manafort’s fraud trial.

Dennis Raico, a former Federal Savings Bank executive testifying under immunity, said the bank’s chief executive, Stephen Calk, expressed interest in such posts as U.S. Treasury secretary or Housing and Urban Development secretary.

Mr. Manafort later asked the incoming administration to consider tapping Mr. Calk for secretary of the Army, according to testimony earlier in the week. Mr. Calk, a retired Army officer and helicopter pilot, did not get the job.

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Mr. Raico was one of several witnesses scheduled for Friday as the trial resumed after a recess that lasted into the midafternoon. He and James Brennan, a Federal Savings executive, were granted immunity against prosecution by Special Counsel Robert Mueller before testifying.

The witnesses were the latest in the government’s case against Mr. Manafort, who faces 18 felony counts of bank fraud, tax fraud and failing to disclose about 30 foreign bank accounts.

Four of Mr. Manafort’s felony counts involve the US$16-million of loans prosecutors have said were extended by Federal Savings in late 2016 and early 2017.

The bank and Mr. Calk, who was named an economic adviser to the Trump campaign in August. 2016, did not respond to requests for comment.

On Friday, Mr. Raico testified that Mr. Calk asked him to call Mr. Manafort shortly after the Nov. 8, 2016, election, to see if he could be a candidate for the Treasury or HUD post.

Mr. Raico also described a July 27, 2016, meeting with Mr. Manafort during which Mr. Calk indicated he would be interested in serving with Mr. Trump. The loan was approved the next day.

When asked by prosecutor Greg Andres whether he had ever seen a loan approved in that short amount of time, Mr. Raico replied, “No.”

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On cross-examination, defence attorney Richard Westling sought to show that Mr. Manafort had provided adequate collateral for both the US$9.5-million loan he got on a Hamptons property and a US$6.5-million loan on a New York City property.

Rick Gates, the deputy chairman of Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee, who also worked on his campaign, testified earlier this week that Mr. Manafort had told him to ask about making Mr. Calk secretary of the Army.

Mr. Gates was indicted along with Mr. Manafort, but pleaded guilty and has been co-operating with Mr. Mueller’s investigation. In a filing on Friday, Mr. Mueller said Mr. Gates is continuing to co-operate with the investigation following his testimony this week.

Mr. Andres had said in court that he planned to call the prosecution’s final witnesses, three of them current or former employees of Federal Savings, on Friday.

Friday’s lengthy recess derailed the prosecution’s plans to wrap up its case by the end of the week. The prosecution is expected to call Mr. Brennan and at least one other witness to testify on Monday.

T.S. Ellis, the federal judge overseeing the case, said the recess could not be avoided and that he had matters to attend to. He reminded jurors to “keep an open mind,” and said that Mr. Manafort is presumed innocent. He gave the jury explicit instructions to not talk about the case.

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It was not clear why, but the afternoon session also was delayed.

Andrew Chojnowski, whose LinkedIn profile describes him as chief operating officer of home lending at Federal, is also on the witness list.

In addition, prosecutors are expected to call Irfan Kirimca, senior director of ticket operations at the Yankees, to testify about payments for Mr. Manafort’s season tickets for the baseball team.

On the stand on Friday, Mr. Raico testified about Mr. Gates’ claiming he borrowed Mr. Manafort’s American Express card for the tickets. Earlier this week, Mr. Gates said Mr. Manafort asked if he would “do him a favour” and sign a letter that attributed the cost of the tickets to him. The box seats cost between US$210,000 to US$225,000 a year, Gates said.

Mr. Raico testified the large outstanding balance was counted as debt when being considered for a loan. Other witnesses also have testified that Mr. Manafort tried to represent lower debt and higher income in order to obtain loans.

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