Michael Flynn’s former deputy on the National Security Council has changed her story to Special Counsel Robert Mueller about whether she discussed with Flynn conversations he had with Russia’s former ambassador about sanctions.
It’s amazing what a guilty plea will do to refresh one’s memory.
The Washington Post reported that K.T. McFarland “revised her statement to investigators” about conversations Flynn had with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in late December 2016, before then President-elect Donald Trump took office.
McFarland had been adamant that an earlier Washington Post story revealing that Flynn and Kislyak had spoken “several times” on Dec. 29, 2016—the day the Obama administration expelled 35 Russian officials for Russia’s attacks on U.S. elections—was wrong. At the time, McFarland said “her memory was clear, and that the two had never discussed sanctions or how the incoming Trump administration hoped Russia would respond,” the Post said.
According to the new report:
When FBI agents first visited her at her Long Island home in the summer of 2017, McFarland denied ever talking to Flynn about any discussion of sanctions between him and the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in December 2016 during the presidential transition.
For a time, investigators saw her answers as “inconsistent,” putting her in legal peril as the FBI tried to determine if she had lied to them.
After Flynn pleaded guilty last December to lying to the FBI about the calls with Kislyak, investigators revisited the issue with McFarland, who softened her earlier denials.
In July 2017, McFarland responded to a written question submitted by Democratic Sen. Cory Booker asking if she had discussed with Flynn his chats with Kislyak. She said she was not “aware of any of the issues or events as described.”
But court documents filed in conjunction with Flynn’s plea say otherwise, the Post reported. The documents note that “a senior Trump transition official was involved in strategizing over the conversations with Kislyak. That official was not identified in the court papers, but people familiar with the case have said it was McFarland,” the newspaper said.
McFarland has since revised her testimony to the FBI. According to the report, “she had not intentionally misled the bureau but had rather spoken from memory, without the benefit of any documents that could have helped her remember her exchanges.”
Many found it hard to believe McFarland’s contradictory statements back when she first made them. Due to the scandal, she was forced to withdraw her nomination for U.S. ambassador to Singapore under the Trump administration.
But in the long run, it looks like the FBI might be giving McFarland a pass.