Paul Manafort, the ex-Trump campaign manager known for his love of ostrich coats and his connection to a 2006 attack on U.S. Marines, pushed to install a well-connected banker as the Secretary of the Army, according to testimony by his former aide and protege.

  • Rick Gates testified on Tuesday that Manafort had emailed him in November 2016 about recommending Federal Savings Bank founder and CEO Stephen Calk, a former Army helicopter pilot, for the position of Secretary of the Army, despite the fact that Manafort had secured millions in loans from Calk’s bank earlier that year.
  • “We need to discuss Steve Calk for Sec of Army. I hear the list is being considered this weekend,” Manafort emailed Gates on November 24, 2016, just weeks after Trump had secured the presidency.
  • Calk also met with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley over lunch in Chicago a week prior to Manafort’s email, according to recent Chicago Sun-Times report, which does not specify what the two men discussed.
  • Additionally, the Chicago Sun-Times disclosed a second email Manafort sent to Gates, in December 2016, urging him to include “Calk and Calk’s son on a list of people Manafort wanted to receive invitations to Trump’s inauguration.”

Calk was never formally considered for the Secretary of Army position, so any efforts on Manafort’s part to us his Trump connections to curry favors with financial institutions didn’t really work (in this case, at least). But given the apparent prevalence of “shadow” organizations that exercise decision-making throughout the Trump administration — the VA, for example — the report is especially troubling.

But, hey, at least this time nobody was shot at.