- President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is under investigation in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
- Now, Mueller is looking into whether Manafort agreed to let a Chicago banker bribe him in exchange for a spot in Trump’s Cabinet, NBC News reported.
- The banker did not eventually get any such seat, but his bank reportedly made several suspect payments to Manafort between 2016 and 2017.
- At least one bank employee is cooperating with Mueller’s team, according to NBC.
President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is reportedly under scrutiny for a suspected $US16 million bribe from a banker who wanted to be on Trump’s Cabinet.
NBC News reported Wednesday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s latest focus is Manafort’s possible involvement with Stephen Calk, the president of the Chicago-based Federal Savings Bank. Mueller’s team has homed in on Manafort in the investigation into Russian meddling in the US presidential election and the Trump campaign’s possible involvement.
The allegations that Mueller’s team is looking into claim that Manafort promised Calk he would grant him a spot on Trump’s cabinet if Calk gave Manafort $US16 million in home loans for properties in New York City and the Hamptons.
Manafort did secure house loans from Calk’s bank, according to a court filing released Friday from Mueller’s team on Manafort’s ongoing bail negotiations. That filing also foreshadowed Mueller would soon provide evidence on Manafort’s “bank frauds and conspiracies.”
Trump appointed Calk to his council of economic advisers in August 2016, but the banker never got a coveted Cabinet position.
At least one Federal Savings Bank employee is cooperating with the Mueller investigation, and several people at the bank felt pressured to approve the loans to Manafort despite questions about the payments’ validity, according to NBC.
Mueller’s team said in the court filings that it had “substantial evidence” that Manafort secured his house loans based on false representations.
Mueller also filed new charges against Manafort on Wednesday, and although their precise nature remains unknown, last Friday’s filings indicated that the special counsel had uncovered “additional criminal conduct” related to bank fraud, according to Reuters.
Manafort is already facing charges of tax fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy
These new charges would be tacked on to the existing charges against him and his business partner Rick Gates that Mueller initially filed last year.
Those include tax fraud, money laundering, misleading foreign disclosure statements, and “conspiracy against the United States.”
While Manafort is challenging the charges and has filed a lawsuit against Mueller, the Justice Department, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Gates is looking to plead guilty to the charges and cooperate with the Mueller investigation.
Manafort left Trump’s campaign team in summer 2016 after news broke of his lobbying on behalf of the party of ousted pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Manafort had been involved in a widespread lobbying campaign in the US on Yanukovych’s behalf, and had also helped resurrect his pro-Russia party in Ukraine following the country’s 2014 revolution. The firms he had been using in this campaign had not completed the proper filings to indicate they were acting on behalf of foreign governments.
Trump has since sought to distance himself from Manafort, despite his prominent position on his campaign.
“Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign,” the president tweeted on October 30, 2017. “But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????”
A previous version of this article stated Mueller was facing charges relating to tax fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy. This typo has been corrected to reflect that Manafort is the one facing these charges.