- A New York Times report suggested Michael Flynn didn’t act without the knowledge of other members of Trump’s transition team
- Shortly after the Obama administration imposed new sanctions on Russia, KT McFarland, a top official of President Donald Trump’s transition team, said in an email to a colleague that the transition team had just “thrown” the election to Trump
- The report shows that Flynn’s surreptitious dealings with the Russian ambassador were known among the president’s inner circle
A cache of emails from President Donald Trump’s transition team has raised questions about Michael Flynn acting as a “rogue” agent, with one national security advisor quoted in an email saying Russia “has just thrown U.S.A. election to him,” according to a report in The New York Times.
The Times story suggests former national security advisor Michael Flynn acted with the knowledge of other senior members of the Trump team. In a series of electronic communications, Flynn kept key transition figures in the loop before and after conversations he had with a Russian diplomat, the publication reported.
In one email sent on Dec. 29, K.T. McFarland addressed Trump advisor Tom Bossert, about President Barack Obama’s decision to impose sanctions on Russia for election interference. At the time, McFarland was transition advisor; she later became deputy national security advisor under Michael Flynn.
“If there is a tit-for-tat escalation, Trump will have difficulty improving relations with Russia, which has just thrown U.S.A. election to him,” she wrote.
However, the report also stated that it was unclear whether McFarland meant “thrown” literally. A White House lawyer told the Times that McFarland was not saying she believed the election had been thrown. The attorney said she only meant that that was what Democrats were saying at the time.
Trump was scheduled to have a call at 5 p.m. that day with McFarland shortly after the email was sent, but it is not clear whether that meeting actually happened, the Times wrote.
Bossert forwarded the exchange to six other White House staffers. The Times said they included Reince Priebus, the appointee to become chief of staff, senior advisor Stephen Bannon and Sean Spicer, who would become press secretary. Bossert also forwarded the exchange to Flynn.
The same day that McFarland sent the email, Flynn called McFarland to discuss what he should communicate to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about the sanctions.
“The presidential transition guide specifically encourages contact with and outreach to foreign dignitaries.”
-Ty Cobb, White House lawyer
That conversation was first disclosed in court papers filed by special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday, and sheds new light on Flynn’s surreptitious dealings with the Russian ambassador. Those allegations ultimately led to his resignation only 24 days into his White House tenure, and appeared to be known among the president’s inner circle.
Flynn on Friday pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and said he would be cooperating with the investigation into contacts between the president’s top aides and Russia, including possible collusion.
“It would have been political malpractice not to discuss sanctions,” the president’s lawyer Ty Cobb told the Times. “The presidential transition guide specifically encourages contact with and outreach to foreign dignitaries.”
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday that he believes McFarland “needs to come in” and testify about the email exchange to the special counsel and congressional investigators.
Warner is the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is leading an investigation into ties between Trump and the Kremlin. That probe is independent of the special counsel’s office.
The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee said that she would push for her committee to interview McFarland as well.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said on NBC’s “Meet The Press” that “the Democratic side, I can assure you, will” request an interview with McFarland.
Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with the Russian government and called the accusations a “witch hunt.”
McFarland is now the White House’s nominee to become ambassador to Singapore. She told Congress in a hearing that she believes Russia interfered in the election, an assessment shared by the intelligence community.
Source CNBC International
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