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.