In light of McFarland’s recent admission, it’s telling to revisit WaPo’s reporting on McFarland’s leaked emails back in December, 2017. Those emails openly discussed the fact that Flynn would be talking with Russian ambassador, Kislyak, regarding sanctions.
The emails were shared among top members of Trump’s inner circle. Trump had won the election, but was not yet President – these people would later occupy key positions in his administration. And that’s the crux of the problem here – Obama was still President, but these non-governmental citizens were acting as if they were the government and were usurping Obama’s position as President.
In addition to K.T. McFarland (Flynn’s future Deputy NSA), the people privy to her emails included: Flynn (future NSA), Reince Priebus (future Chief of Staff); Steve Bannon (future Chief Strategist), Sean Spicer (future Press Secretary), and Tom Bossert (future Homeland Security Advisor).
(Side note: All of those people have either resigned or been fired – just a reminder of the volatility of this administration. Or perhaps a sign that the administration felt the need to establish a distance from potential witnesses?)
It’s inconceivable to me that none of these close advisors would have shared with Trump the fact that Flynn would be talking with Kislyak about sanctions. At least one of them must have mentioned this crucial upcoming parley – the Russian sanctions were all over the news at the time as was Trump’s infatuation with Putin.
When President Trump fired his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in February, White House officials portrayed him as a renegade who had acted independently in his discussions with a Russian official during the presidential transition and then lied to his colleagues about the interactions.
But emails among top transition officials, provided or described to The New York Times, suggest that Mr. Flynn was far from a rogue actor. In fact, the emails, coupled with interviews and court documents filed on Friday, showed that Mr. Flynn was in close touch with other senior members of the Trump transition team both before and after he spoke with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, about American sanctions against Russia.
. . . It is evident from the emails — which were obtained from someone who had access to transition team communications — that after learning that President Barack Obama would expel 35 Russian diplomats, the Trump team quickly strategized about how to reassure Russia. . . .
As part of the outreach, Ms. McFarland wrote, Mr. Flynn would be speaking with the Russian ambassador, Mr. Kislyak, hours after Mr. Obama’s sanctions were announced.
“Key will be Russia’s response over the next few days,” Ms. McFarland wrote in an email to another transition official, Thomas P. Bossert, now the president’s homeland security adviser. . .
“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.”