KT McFarland Likened Trump’s Transition Interventions to the Iran October Surprise

In an FBI interview on September 14, 2017, KT McFarland likened Mike Flynn’s transition period interference with Obama policy to Richard Nixon’s Chennault Affair and what she called Reagan’s “purported dealings with Iran to free American hostages.”

Based on her study of prior presidential transitions, McFarland believed the sorts of things Flynn did were not unusual. She cited Richard Nixon’s involvement in Vietnam War peace talks and Ronald Reagan’s purported dealings with Iran to free American hostages during their transitions as precedent for proactive foreign policy engagements by an incoming administration. Most incoming administrations did similar things. No “red light” or “alarm bells” went off in her head when she head what Flynn was doing. The President-elect made his support for Israel very clear during the campaign and contrasted his position with President Obama, who he believed had not treated Israel fairly.

To be clear: She was only talking about Flynn’s request of Russia, on December 22, to help stave off a UN vote condemning Israeli illegal settlements. At that point in September 2017, she was still claiming not to remember the calls Flynn made on December 29 to undermine Obama’s sanctions on Russia itself. She wouldn’t unforget those calls until after Flynn pled guilty a month and a half later.

But to the extent that she was happy to acknowledge that Trump’s National Security Advisor — her boss — was undermining US policy, she rationalized it by comparing it to Nixon and Reagan’s efforts to undermine US policy for political gain.

Only, it wasn’t just Flynn involved in undermining Obama’s foreign policy. Records from Mueller’s investigation show the following sequence on December 22:

  • 6:02AM: A “senior advisor to a Republican Senator” writes McFarland, cc’ing Flynn and others, warning that the UNSC was “voting to condemn Israeli settlements at 10a.m.” yet Obama was silent
  • 8:46AM: Flynn and Kushner speak for four minutes
  • 8:53AM: Flynn calls Sergei Kislyak, then calls a representative of the Egyptian government and speaks to him for four minutes
  • 8:59AM Flynn speaks to Kislyak for three minutes
  • Flynn had “several additional” calls with the representative of the Egyptian government
  • Egypt delayed the vote

When the President’s son-in-law read a draft statement from Egypt noting that Abdel Fattah El-Sisi had spoken with Trump that day and had “agreed to lay the groundwork … to drive the establishment of a true peace between the Arabs and the Israelis,” Kushner asked whether they could alter the statement. “Can we make it clear that Al Sisi reached out to DJT so it doesn’t look like we reached out to intercede?” He then falsely claimed, on an email with others like Reince Priebus that, “This happens to be the true fact pattern and better for this to be out there.”

Only it wasn’t the true fact pattern. Flynn had reached out. Not Sisi.

Indeed, this incident was probably the start of Kushner’s Abraham Accords, which in turn probably relates to why the Saudis paid Kushner $2 billion after he left the White House.

And it wasn’t just Flynn involved. Flynn made all these calls from Mar-a-Lago. After Egypt delayed the vote, McFarland bragged that Flynn, “had worked it all day with trump from Mara lago.” [my emphasis]

Trump was involved too.

That December 22 transcript was withheld from those released in 2020. But on a later call with Kislyak — the one where he asked Kislyak to hold off on sanctions — analysts suggested “he may be using a speaker phone.” Had Flynn used a speaker phone on December 22, when he was in Mar-a-Lago with Trump, Trump would have been on that call as well.

The next day, McFarland bragged still some more. She suggested Flynn should leak to the press about,

the crucial role [he] played in working your contacts built up over the decades to get administration ambush Israel headed off. You worked the phones with Japanese Russians Egyptians Spanish etc and reversed a sure defeat for Israel by kerry/Obama/susan rice/samantha power cabal.

In 2016, McFarland wanted Flynn to get credit in the press that he had undermined US policy to help Israel. In 2017, she rationalized doing so because Nixon and Reagan had done similar things in their day.

I raise all this not just because I wonder whether Bill Barr killed the investigation into whether Egypt kept Trump’s campaign alive in September 2016 with a $10 million donation.

I raise all this because NYT, on the verge of Jimmy Carter’s death, has finally revealed who reached out to Iran to get them to hold Americans hostage longer to help Reagan win the White House.

It was former Texas Governor John Connolly.

It was 1980 and Jimmy Carter was in the White House, bedeviled by a hostage crisis in Iran that had paralyzed his presidency and hampered his effort to win a second term. Mr. Carter’s best chance for victory was to free the 52 Americans held captive before Election Day. That was something that Mr. Barnes said his mentor was determined to prevent.

His mentor was John B. Connally Jr., a titan of American politics and former Texas governor who had served three presidents and just lost his own bid for the White House. A former Democrat, Mr. Connally had sought the Republican nomination in 1980 only to be swamped by former Gov. Ronald Reagan of California. Now Mr. Connally resolved to help Mr. Reagan beat Mr. Carter and in the process, Mr. Barnes said, make his own case for becoming secretary of state or defense in a new administration.

What happened next Mr. Barnes has largely kept secret for nearly 43 years. Mr. Connally, he said, took him to one Middle Eastern capital after another that summer, meeting with a host of regional leaders to deliver a blunt message to be passed to Iran: Don’t release the hostages before the election. Mr. Reagan will win and give you a better deal.

Then shortly after returning home, Mr. Barnes said, Mr. Connally reported to William J. Casey, the chairman of Mr. Reagan’s campaign and later director of the Central Intelligence Agency, briefing him about the trip in an airport lounge.

At that moment of history, when Reagan won a victory in part thanks to Connally’s sacrifice of Americans’ freedom, KT McFarland was at the height of her credibility on foreign policy, fresh off going ABD in a PhD program. With the new Republican regime, she worked first for Texas Senator John Tower on the Senate Armed Services Committee, then for Cap Weinberger at DOD.

KT McFarland, who derives any foreign policy credibility to that moment created by an effort to harm US policy for political gain, likened what Trump did to what Reagan had done before.

30 replies
  1. P J Evans says:

    I have the very strong impression that Republicans think laws are for everyone else, not them.
    (I haven’t forgiven either Nixon or Reagan for what they did.)

      • DaveC2022 says:

        Sadly, there are prominent D’s with similar problems. On these timelines, the Clinton & Juanita Broaddrick allegation is painfully disturbing.

        • PieIsDamnGood says:

          Really? Really?

          Broaddrick filed an affidavit with Paula Jones’s lawyers stating there were unfounded rumors and stories circulating “that Mr. Clinton had made unwelcome sexual advances toward me in the late seventies. … These allegations are untrue”.[2] She then recanted that statement to investigators of potential misconduct by Clinton led by Kenneth Starr, while insisting at the time that Clinton had not pressured or bribed her in any way. Starr declined to further investigate the issue, and mentioned it only in a footnote of his final report.

  2. Phaedruses says:

    Made this comment on the Beryl Howell post, it is appropriate here

    The article points to Reagan’s knowledge of the trip;

    I however would like to know what was George H W Bush’s knowledge, since he ran the CIA under Ford. Bush would be the one with knowledge of clandestine ops and who to use, IE another Texan politician he had to know whether he could trust with said operation.

    Bush is the person I would have focused on, not some ex Hollywood actor turned politician.

    • !?FTWlol says:

      Republican National Convention convened from July 14 to July 17, 1980. “At the 1980 Republican National Convention, Reagan made the last-minute decision to select Bush as his vice presidential nominee after negotiations with Ford regarding a Reagan–Ford ticket collapsed.” [1] “An itinerary found this past week in Mr. Connally’s files indicated that he did, in fact, leave Houston on July 18, 1980, for a trip that would take him to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel before returning to Houston on Aug. 11. Mr. Barnes was listed as accompanying him.”[2]Bush timeline checks out. [1] Wikipedia, [2] NYT.

      • viget says:

        It’s deja vu, all over again. The same bleeping RNC playbook, with some of the same actors as Nixon/Ford/Bush. Except 2016 was a high-tech Watergate, and a bumbling Flynn was the one who gave it all away by his hubris, whereas Connally took his secret to the grave.

        Plus ca change….

  3. Naomi Schiff says:

    Correction for clarity: I think in the last part, you may mean “victory” for the second history in: “At that moment of history, when Reagan won a history in part . . “

  4. harpie says:

    Presidential historian, Michael Beschloss:

    4:41 PM · Mar 18, 2023

    […] Look what kind of soulless pirate John Connally was. In Dallas car in 1963, he was shot and JFK was killed. Here, [PHOTO] in JFK’s old Oval Office, he poses for 1971 photo with shotgun next to Kennedy’s old rival, sucking up to Nixon in effort to become his Presidential successor: [THREAD]

    • P J Evans says:

      The theory I ran into – and it actually makes sense – is that Connally was the intended victim. He’ been Navy secretary when Oswald was in the Marines, and Oswald had a grudge. The aim was off by just a hair so it hit Connally’s wrist then went spinning into JFK’s neck.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        I did see a reasonably compelling story that the shot that killed JFK came from a USSS gun that was mishandled. Connally might have been the target, because the Warren Commission ‘magic bullet’ likely did not kill Kennedy.

        On the Iran deal topic, one must remember that the stage was set for Iran-Contra, which has particular interest to me because those F-14s and missiles were aimed at my ships when we were in theater (and in the Gulf). In addition, since we’d already been fighting against the Iranians laying mines and other illegalities as well as the fact they stormed our embassy (that’s an act of war and they still haven’t returned it) one could make a more valid argument about more serious charges. As a result of that footsie with a known if not declared adversary, my antipathy regarding the hypocrites calling themselves Republicans runs pretty deep.

        Remember, then-AG Barr spiked the Iran-Contra investigation too.

      • Skillethead says:

        Bullet hit Kennedy first. He was between Oswald and Connally. Hard to imagine that if you wanted to take out Connally, you would wait until he was in a car with the President. Conceivable, I guess, but doesn’t seem likely.

      • Spank Flaps says:

        I’ve researched all the JFK theories, they are all wrong, but the theory that he was aiming for Connally is one of the worst.
        If you are interested in the assassination, save yourself a lot of time and spend a day reading the blogs at http://www.onthetrailofdelusion.com and http://jfkfiles.blogspot.com/
        They debunk everything (with receipts).
        All the so called lingering questions were actually answered in 1978 at the HSCA.
        (Spoiler alert – the JFK assassination community is one big sham, just like the Magic Circle, and the UFO community)

  5. Kalkaino says:

    Gee whiz — it’s almost as if the GOP has a literal playbook that suggests to presidential candidates that they conspire with foreign agents to undermine their opponents (and furtherance democracy in general) for domestic political gain: Nixon scuttled the Peace Talks, Reagan scuttled the hostage negotiations, Reagan and Bush cooked up Iran-Contra partly to hotwire the midterms, Bush I “led” us into Iraq War I, a thing of April Glaspie’s making, so he could be a War President, Bush II and Karl Rove (et al “the British have learned”) cooked up the Iraq War II to see that Smirking Chimp ran again as a War President, and now Flynn, Kushner, Trump and company….

    Invoking here the colloquial and not the statutory connotation of the word — I wonder when somebody will finally get around to writing the book on this phenomenon called perhaps “A Tradition of Treason” ?

    • Puri_19MAR2023_0604h says:

      Love your book idea- somebody should do it!

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  6. Alexi says:

    Saudi Arabia is not part of the Abraham Accords.

    Kushner’s 2 Billion from MBS is about covering for MBS with the Kashhogi killing and likely payment for passing American intel to MBS about his rivals who he had locked up in order to take power over Saudi Arabia.

    The Abraham Accords are literally the only positive thing to come out of the Trump admin. IMO the UN Vote against the Israelis was disgusting. But we have one President at a time and playing footsie with Kislyak and the Putin regime over sanctions for electioneering “favors” in the US should have landed Flynn in jail for a very long time.

    • Marinela says:

      The UN Vote against the Israelis was disgusting to you?
      Are you disgusted at Israeli settlements? Or that is fine in your opinion?
      A government that pays its citizens to leave for free in occupied territories and then it turns around and enforces the occupation with military, that is not something I can support.

      Is not like Obama administration didn’t explain the context.

      Are you disgusted we give so much military aid to Israeli?
      They really don’t need more arms.
      Israel needs to behave like a democracy before we, the tax payers, are dumping more money and arms to Israel.
      It is not money well spend by the US. This is disgusting to me.

      They are unable to elect and create a functioning government.

      • Alexi says:

        Yes it was disgusting. It declares the Western Wall “occupied”. It’s BS.

        Also, it’s not “Palestinian Land”. There has literally never been “Palestinian Land”. It is literally disputed territory until the Palestinians agree to a State. It was Ottoman land, It was “British Mandate Land” and then It was Jordanian land from 48-67 and the Palestine Liberation Org (spokesman for the “Palestinian People”) literally declared it NOT their land in their very own charter while this was the case. Now that Jews live there, they’ve moved the goalposts. Literally.

        A full 20% of Israel is made up of Arabs, mostly Muslim and some Christian. Israel has had Arabs in their parliament, as part of the ruling coalition and even as a temporary President of the country. There are Arab town that have been incorporated as part of Israel; yet the Palestinians are unwilling to have Jews live amongst them. THAT is the problem they have with “settlements”.

        The Palestinian demand of a Judenrein State is how we got here in the first place and it hasn’t changed. This is due to Islamism and Pan-Arabism as we saw with Nasser and it hasn’t changed one iota. .There is no reason the Palestinians cannot incorporate towns of Jews into a Palestinian State except for the Antisemitism they espouse.

        The Palestinians have been offered a State numerous times. They have rejected the offers, and they have failed to submit counter-offers. They have even been offered Eastern Jerusalem by Ehud Barak and they walked away from that too.

        I have no problem with American military aid to Israel as long as the neighborhood in which they live continues to espouse Jihadi rhetoric with regards to Israel, both Sunni and Shiite.
        While I don’t care for the current government in Israel, at least they were elected. When people who support the Palestinians treat the Palestinians as adults and demand the Abbas finish out the 4 year term for which he was elected back in 2005 you’ll have a point. And then there’s Hamas….

        • Rayne says:

          Stop with this comment. End it right now. We’re not going to descend into a DDoS of this thread with a topic which is not directly related to KT McFarland’s behavior.

          That goes for the rest of commenters here.

      • timmer says:

        thank you, Marinela! I will never understand or support our blind allegiance to all things Israel.

  7. David F. Snyder says:

    The wife and I were visiting the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library back in 2010. One of the rooms is a mock-up of the cabinet room and nameplates were all around: Cheney, Bush Sr., Rumsfeld, …It struck me that any of these three had the connections and “ethical flexibility” needed to get Iran to stall.

  8. Phil_24NOV2020_1324h says:

    So she didn’t have any thoughts on Flynn’s consulting contract with Turkey which included trying to kidnap Erdogan dissident Fethullah Gülen from Pennsylvania and deliver him to Ankara for a show trial?

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    (originally posted at 2023/03/20 at 12:40 pm)

  9. Willis Warren says:

    This would make me extremely angry if I’d spent another six months in Iranian prison for Ronnie Raygun’s electoral chances.

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