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Email From Top Trump Official Appears to Acknowledge Russia's Role In Trump's Election

On Dec. 29, 2016, Donald Trump transition team member K. T. McFarland, wrote in an email to a teammate that sanctions announced hours before by President Obama's administration in retaliation for Russian election meddling would discredit Mr. Trump’s victory. She added the sanctions could also make it harder for Mr. Trump to ease tensions with Russia “which has just thrown the U.S.A. election to him.”

A White House lawyer stated Friday that she meant only that Democrats were portraying it that way although that reference doesn't appear in the text of the email. Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner said Sunday that McFarland, the former deputy national security adviser, needs to provide testimony to Congress and special counsel Robert Mueller. President Trump nominated McFarland to be the U.S. Ambassador to Singapore.


"Ms. McFarland needs to come in, and not just testify in front of Mueller, but testify in front of the congressional committees," Warner said Sunday.

 While Trump calls any claims that he or his aides had unusual interactions with Russian officials "fake news", records related to Trump administration former national security adviser Michael Flynn's guilty plea suggest the Trump transition team, headed by Vice President Mike Pence, was intensely focused on improving relations with Moscow. The team was willing to intervene to pursue that goal despite a request from the Obama administration that it not create confusion about official American policy before Mr. Trump took office.

The Trump advisers feared a cycle of retaliation between the United States and Russia would keep the spotlight on Moscow’s election meddling. 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.

It's unclear if McFarland's previous ties to Russia were the reason she was selected for the transition team headed by Vice President Pence.