Last week, Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn cut a plea deal in the Trump-Russia scandal. This set off a chain reaction of leaks, countermoves and revelations. One of them was that Flynn’s former deputy KT McFarland admitted in an email that she knew Russia had rigged the election in Trump’s favor. Now it turns out she appears to have lied about it while testifying to investigators, meaning she may now have to cut a deal as well.
McFarland admitted in email during the transition period that Russia “threw” the election to Trump. That alone is a confession that she knew serious crimes were committed, and she failed to report them, which puts her at risk of being charged with misprision of a felony. But now the New York Times has determined that McFarland later told a contradictory version of the story to Congressional investigators (link). Her own email appears to prove that she intentionally lied to Congress. Even if Congress doesn’t want to charge her with a crime, Special Counsel Robert Mueller can – and we’ve seen that he’s willing to exploit every possible angle when it comes to charging people. So what now?
McFarland is only loosely tied to the Trump administration to begin with (she’s since beeb nominated to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Singapore), so it seems likely she’d want to cut a deal if she thinks she’s facing serious criminal prosecution. The bigger issue here may be whether or not Mueller would even want to give her a deal. She could testify against her former boss Flynn, but he’s already flipped. Can she provide evidence and testimony against bigger fish in the Trump-Russia scandal?
That’s the central question when it comes to how this will play out. Mueller has already nailed Flynn and and George Papadopoulos for lying to investigators, so it’s clear he’s willing to go that route with anyone else whose cooperation he wants. What will KT McFarland do now?
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report