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Ex-White House aide walks back claim on Mike Flynn sanctions conversation: report

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An ex-White House official has revised a previous statement by telling investigators that former national security adviser Michael Flynn may have referred to sanctions when they discussed his calls with a former Russian envoy, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.

K.T. McFarland’s statement revised an earlier assertion to FBI agents that sanctions on Russia did not come up when she spoke to Flynn in December 2016 about his calls with Sergey Kislyak when he was the Russian ambassador to the United States, the newspaper said, quoting unidentified people familiar with the matter.

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Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia and is cooperating in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller. He will be sentenced Dec. 18.

Mueller is looking at whether Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak involved what U.S. intelligence agencies say was a Russian influence operation to throw the 2016 presidential vote to then-Republican candidate Donald Trump.

Trump denounces the probe as a “witch hunt” and Russia denies that it meddled in the election.

One question Mueller is investigating is whether Flynn or other Trump aides discussed lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia in exchange for financial considerations.

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McFarland’s account does not clarify what the president knew about Flynn’s interactions with Kislyak, the Post quoted its sources as saying.

The newspaper said McFarland did not return requests for comment. Her lawyer, Robert Giuffra, did not immediately return a request for comment.

Flynn, a former Army general who headed the Defense Intelligence Agency, was a Trump campaign aide and briefly served as his national security adviser. He was fired in February 2017 for misleading the administration about his contacts with Kislyak.

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Speaking to FBI agents in the summer of 2017, McFarland, who briefly worked as Flynn’s deputy, denied that sanctions arose in her discussions with Flynn about his calls with Kislyak, the Post said.

However, court papers filed in connection with Flynn’s guilty plea indicated that an unidentified Trump transition team member participated in strategising on Flynn’s calls. People familiar with the issue identified the official as McFarland, the newspaper said.

After the papers were filed, investigators again questioned McFarland and she revised her original denial that sanctions arose in her discussions with Flynn, it said.

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“She walked back her previous denial that sanctions were discussed, saying a general statement Flynn had made to her that things were going to be OK could have been a reference to sanctions,” the Post reported.

She and Giuffra convinced FBI agents that she did not intentionally mislead them, the newspaper said.


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Republicans lack the ‘moxie’ to defend America’s Kurdish allies in Syria: Ex-RNC Chair

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Republicans will criticize President Donald Trump on foreign policy, but lack the nerve to do anything meaningful to protect America's Kurdish allies in northern Syria, the former chair of the Republican Party explained on MSNBC on Wednesday.

MSNBC's Chuck Todd interviewed Steele about what it would take for Republicans to serve as a check on the president.

"I think the only way to make him change his mind is -- he’s got to think they might walk," Todd said.

"Well, that would require a level of moxie that we haven’t seen from the leadership," Steele replied.

"On the foreign policy space, I think that’s the one area where we’ve seen people actually start to push back rhetorically," he noted. "But I don’t know if internally they’ve really sat down with the president and go, 'This is how damaging this is, this is how troublesome it is, and this is the problem you’re having inside the caucus.' I just don’t — at least from the folks I’ve talked to, I haven’t gotten the sense they’ve gone there yet."

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Here are the two Trump claims that the Pentagon chief refused to vouch for

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The White House meeting Wednesday afternoon didn't go well for either party, according to their counterparts. Both sides are dishing on details, including a Democratic aide who said that there were two of President Donald Trump's claims that his own Pentagon chief wouldn't vouch for.

At the onset of the meeting, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) began by reading a quote from Gen. James Mattis, who briefly served in Trump's administration.

"But POTUS cut Schumer off," reported PBS News correspondent Lisa Desjardins. Trump then "said that Gen Mattis was: 'the world’s most overrated general. You know why? He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take 2 yrs. I captured them in 1 month."

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Former Clinton lawyer scolds Trump’s White House counsel on impeachment: ‘we never considered’ behaving this way

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On Tuesday, Lanny Breuer, a special counsel who worked for President Bill Clinton's White House, wrote an open letter in the Washington Post to President Donald Trump's White House Counsel Pat Cipollone — telling him that, while he understands an impeachment is a horrible thing for an administration to go through, Clinton and his lawyers would never have behaved the way Trump is now.

"In 1998, we felt under siege," wrote Breuer. "We argued at the time, as you do in your letter, that Congress should provide additional procedural protections to the president ... For example, instead of conducting its own investigation, the committee relied almost exclusively on [independent counsel Ken] Starr’s report, which had serious flaws. The House took only three months to adopt articles of impeachment, and we had only two days to present our witnesses. The president’s personal lawyer, David Kendall, had only 30 minutes to question Starr. We felt this was deeply unfair and a derogation of the House’s constitutional duty to investigate thoroughly whether impeachment was warranted."

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