As special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation heats up and the president continues to crack up, there’s yet more evidence that there’s something rotten in the Kremlin-backed cotton.
The New York Times reported Saturday that it had obtained emails that show a high-level adviser to Donald Trump—who later worked under former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and who was referred to as “Flynn’s brain”—saying that Russia “has just thrown the USA election to him.”
K.T. McFarland—who later became deputy national security adviser under Flynn, who himself pleaded guilty Friday to charges of lying to the FBI—wrote that the sanctions imposed by the Obama administration for meddling in the 2016 presidential election would make it harder for relations to improve between the two countries; and also that the point of the sanctions was to “discredit Trump’s victory by saying it was due to Russian interference,” the Times reported.
“If there is a tit-for-tat escalation Trump will have difficulty improving relations with Russia, which has just thrown USA election to him,” McFarland wrote.
This is significant because, as CNN notes:
The emails reveal Flynn was in close touch with other members of the transition team before and after he spoke with the Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak about US sanctions against Russia, according to the Times.
The emails also directly contradict how the White House tried to portray Flynn — as someone who acted alone. White House special counsel Ty Cobb said after Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Kislyak: “Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.”
As part of the outreach to Russia, McFarland wrote that Flynn would speak to Kislyak.
“Key will be Russia’s response over the next few days,” McFarland said in an email to another transition official, Tom Bossert, who is now Trump’s Homeland Security adviser.
McFarland’s Dec. 29, 2016, email exchange was reportedly sent to six other Trump advisers, including Flynn; Reince Priebus, Trump’s then chief of staff; Steve Bannon, Trump’s then senior strategist; and Sean Spicer, who would later become Trump’s press secretary. It’s worth mentioning that all of the people mentioned here are no longer with the Trump administration.
The Times reports that McFarland, who served until May as deputy national security adviser and is awaiting confirmation as ambassador to Singapore, could not be reached for comment.
Ty Cobb, who is overseeing the legal and media response to the Russia investigation, told the Times that there was nothing illegal or unethical about the actions of the transition team’s members.
“It would have been political malpractice not to discuss sanctions,” he told the newspaper, adding that “the presidential transition guide specifically encourages contact with and outreach to foreign dignitaries.”
Is this the smoking gun, the evidence that John Oliver has been waiting for all year to finally nail Trump, or just another ember in an already smoldering Russian puzzle?
Only time will tell.