Is this more fun than the original barrel that all of those monkeys came in, or what? Ever since it was unveiled by prosecutors that there are up to five previously unnamed witnesses, ready to testify under immunity against Paul Manafort, “Name that Miscreant!” has become the most popular after dinner game in progressive households across America.
I've seen all kinds of interesting possibilities tossed out there, including several in the comments of one of my articles yesterday, and they all tend to have one thing in common. They are all connected to Trump or the campaign. I've seen names like Reince Priebus, Hope Hicks, and even a Jared Kushner or two thrown in for good measure. And while I would love to see any or all of them clad in jumpsuits the color of Don Cornholeone's hair, and wearing steel bracelets, they're not very good fits.
Because of the witness descriptions in the court document. The prospective witnesses are described as involved in charges against Manafort, with legal culpability, which is why they need immunity, but less culpability than Manafort, and none of them have been previously named in any Manafort indictments. Theoretically, most of the names I've seen could still squeak in, but here's what kills them off.
Manafort's charges. The charges Manafort is up against in the Virginia trial occurred before, in some cases years before Trump pulled him out of campaign mothballs to manage his campaign for free. Even the media had to dig around for information on Manafort when Trump named him as his new campaign manager. There is no way the political neophytes in Trump's campaign could have known Manafort well enough to have been involved in any of his past shady dealings, long before he became associated with the campaign.
Here's one of the people I think is on Mueller's list of shock-and-awe witnesses. Remember a guy named Stephen Calk? I'll forgive you if you don't, simply because if you weren't looking with a magnifying glass, his name would have slipped right by you as an ancillary character in a two cycle story several months ago.
Calk is the CEO of Federal Savings Bank, a small bank in Chicago that claimed to specialize in serving veterans, which Manafort is not. In the months before he was anointed as the new Trump campaign manager, Manafort is charged with mortgage fraud, for obtaining legitimate loans by using fraudulent documents. Calk lent Manafort an insane amount of money, somewhere in the vicinity of 25% of available bank lending assets, in return for some claptrap promise from Manafort to push his name as a nominee to be the Secretary of the Army. The media even comically reported that the poor slob had contacted the Department of Defense, asking for briefings, so that he could prepare for his Senate confirmation hearing testimony.
I don;t know the actual name of the second man, and I can;t find where it was ever actually reported, but he;s the loan officer at Federal Savings bank. This was the guy who did the grunt work of actually processing Manafort's loan application. And he knew that the financial documents he was looking at were doctored, at one point he sent Manafort's protege, Rick Gates, who was handling the paperwork on the loans, an exasperated e-mail, telling Gates “I can't work with the stuff you're sending me, it;s no good. Can't you just send me a clean Excel spreadsheet in a pdf file, and I'll take it from there?”
Granted, these guys are not political rock stars, or power players, but they fit the court document parameters to a T. They are involved in a current charge against Manafort. They both have legal culpability. Knowingly approving a loan based on fraudulent financial documents is defrauding your depositors, and if they knew the documents were doctored, especially if they were in bed with Manafort, you can throw in conspiracy to defrud charges as well. Their legal jeopardy is less than Manafort's, the loan officer can claim he was just following orders, and Calk can claim that he was blinded by the allure of being the Secretary of the Army. And as far as I can find, neither of them has been named in a previous indictment.
If I'm wrong, God knows it won't be the first time. But you gotta admit, these two nebbishes are dead ringers for the description set forth by prosecutors in the court filing. And unlike the NHL, we don't have to wait 8 months for the season to be played before we know if my guess on the next Stanley Cup champion is right, Jury selection in Manafort's trial is set to begin one week from today. Barring unforeseen delays, we should know in less than a month. Don't touch that dial.
The wait is over! Volume two of the trilogy, President Evil II: A Clodwork Orange is now available. Amazon is whining about me crashing their site, but the hell with them, I ain't in this for their health. You can also find volume one, President Evil as well. And fear not, work on volume three is just beginning.
Cross published on Politizoom.com