Flynn Was ‘In Close Touch’ With Trump Transition Team About Call With Kislyak, NYT Reports

A new report out says that far from Michael Flynn being a “renegade,” he was “in close touch” with people on the Trump transition team on his infamous call with Sergey Kislyak. Flynn pled guilty yesterday, and per The New York Times, emails and documents show “the Trump transition team was intensely focused on improving relations with Moscow and was willing to intervene to pursue that goal despite a request from the Obama administration that it not sow confusion about official American policy before Mr. Trump took office.” The report contains a rather stunning quote from one transition adviser, K.T. McFarland, which the White House downplayed to the Times:
On Dec. 29, a transition adviser to Mr. Trump, K. T. McFarland, wrote in an email to a colleague that sanctions announced hours before by the Obama administration in retaliation for Russian election meddling were aimed discrediting Mr. Trump’s victory. The sanctions could also make it much harder for Mr. Trump to ease tensions with Russia, “which has just thrown the U.S.A. election to him,” she wrote in the emails obtained by The Times. It is not clear whether Ms. McFarland was saying she believed that the election had in fact been thrown. A White House lawyer said on Friday that she meant only that the Democrats were portraying it that way.

Several reports yesterday said that McFarland was the unnamed senior official ID’d in the Flynn court papers. Per the AP, McFarland “was involved in a discussion with Flynn about what he would say to Russian government officials in response to U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia last year.” The Times report contains details about emails by McFarland and others on the transition team after they learned about steps Barack Obama was taking against Russia:
Mr. Bossert forwarded Ms. McFarland’s Dec. 29 email exchange about the sanctions to six other Trump advisers, including Mr. Flynn; Reince Priebus, who had been named as chief of staff; Stephen K. Bannon, the senior strategist; and Sean Spicer, who would become the press secretary. Mr. Obama, she wrote, was trying to “box Trump in diplomatically with Russia,” which could limit his options with other countries, including Iran and Syria. “Russia is key that unlocks door,” she wrote. She also wrote that the sanctions over Russian election meddling were intended to “lure Trump in trap of saying something” in defense of Russia, and were aimed at “discrediting Trump’s victory by saying it was due to Russian interference.” “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. Mr. Bossert replied by urging all the top advisers to “defend election legitimacy now.”
Flynn, of course, is currently cooperating with the special counsel investigation. [image via screengrab] — — Follow Josh Feldman on Twitter: @feldmaniac

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