A Trump ambassador pick who got caught up in Russia scandal just paid the price

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Kathleen “K.T.” McFarland, a former Fox News contributor who became toxic when she was caught lying to a Congressional committee about her knowledge of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s connection to Russian interference in the 2016 election, today “reluctantly” withdrew from consideration to be President Trump’s Ambassador to Singapore. 

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McFarland, who served on Trump’s transition team and had a three-month stint as Flynn’s deputy national security advisor, was pushed out shortly after he left, with Trump offering her the Singapore Ambassadorship to help ease the transition.

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What was supposed to be a quick process after her June 2017 nomination, dragged out for months over questions about whether she had lied about her knowledge of the Russia-Trump election investigation. 

During the summer in response to questions for the Senate Foreign Relations committee from Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) about whether she had ever discussed Flynn’s contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, McFarland wrote back that she was “not aware of any of the issues or events described” in the query.

In September, the committee thanks to the Republican majority, approved her nomination and sent it on to the full Senate, but the story was not to have a happy ending for her.

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Later court documents related to Flynn’s guilty plea after his investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller which showed senior officials in the Trump administration knew about Flynn’s discussion with Kislyak about the sanctions led Booker to charge she had given “false testimony.”

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On December 1, last year, it came out as part of Mueller’s investigation that McFarland during the transition had been involved with Flynn and Trump’s son in law Jared Kushner in discussions about what to say when asked about Russian contacts regarding the U.S. sanctions. 

The next day an email she sent during the transition surfaced in which McFarland was quoted about the problems caused by new sanctions on Russia imposed by President Obama. 

“If there is tit-for-tat escalation Trump will  have difficulty improving relations with Russia,” she wrote in the email to Flynn, “which has just thrown U.S.A. election to him.”

Trump administration officials insisted the last part, about “throwing the election” was her speaking sarcastically because that had recently been in the news.

That didn’t matter to Booker because it was clear she had lied about her knowledge of Flynn’s involvement with Russia.  Senator Bob Corker, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, then put a hold on her nomination.

However, what she had done apparently did not matter to Trump, who brushed it off as unimportant. When the Senate killed her nomination to be Ambassador in Singapore at the end of 2017, he resubmitted it in January. 

McFarland, who did not know Trump before joining his transition team, did have a relationship with his two sons whom she had met when they were all appearing on Fox News at various times.

McFarland had started in government as a part-time typist in the Nixon White House while she was attending George Washington University. She worked her way up and met Henry Kissinger when he was in charge of the National Security Agency.

She became a protege to Kissinger under President Gerald Ford and then left to get additional education, before returning to work under President Ronald Reagan, serving as a speechwriter for the Secretary of Defense and later the Pentagon spokesperson.

She then married and left government to raise three children. It would be another 30 years before she serious re-entered politics when she ran against Hillary Clinton for the Senate seat in New York in 2006.

She was plagued in her run for Senate by charges that she exaggerated her credentials and made outlandish claims that Clinton was spying on her. Her campaign ran out of money and was suspended before the September primary, which she lost. 

That exposure, however, got McFarland a position with Fox News beginning in 2010 discussing national and international affairs. She also hosted an online talk show and wrote for a number of outlets.

Her stance was that Obama was wrong on how he handled international terrorism. She charged he did not take seriously enough the threat posed by global Islamism to the Western world. She was also against U.S. intervention in global terrorism, strongly opposing the U.S. involvement in Libya at that time.

In 2013, McFarland said Vladimir Putin deserved the Nobel Peace Prize for his actions in the Syrian civil war. 

When she withdrew as a nominee to be Ambassador to Singapore today, McFarland wrote to Trump that she still believes in his “mission” and wants him to know “I have no intention of withdrawing from the national debate and I want to help you in any way I can.”

Trump, for his part, said in a statement this week that “K.T. served my administration with distinction. Unfortunately, some Democrats chose to play politics rather than move forward with a qualified nominee for a critically important post.”

In other words, Trump had driven her out of her National Security job but rewarded her loyalty with an Ambassadorship, and still remains delusional about what she did wrong when she lied to a Senate committee about her role in the Russia-Trump mess.

At least he can be secure that when McFarland inevitably ends up back on Fox News, she will continue to tow his party line, no matter what the facts show or the reality of the situation.

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The good news is that she will never represent the U.S. in Singapore. 





Benjamin Locke

Benjamin Locke is a retired college professor with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Labor and Relations from Cornell University and an MBA from the European School of Management.

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