Kathleen Troia “K.T.” McFarland, a Long Islander involved in national-security issues during prior GOP presidencies, re-emerges in the news amid an intensified Russia probe.
Over the weekend, an email she wrote as a key player on President Donald Trump’s transition team cropped up in published reports.
On Dec. 29, 2016, just after the Obama administration imposed sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime, McFarland reportedly wrote that this was done to make Trump’s election look illegimate.
She warned a colleague at the time that the sanctions could make it hard for the incoming administration to ease tensions with Russia — “which has just thrown the U.S.A. election to him.”
As the White House describes it, McFarland meant not that Putin got Trump elected but that partisan critics wrongfully would be saying so. At least at first glance, that interpretation would seem more likely.
It would jibe with what McFarland said at other times — for example, at a public forum earlier this year: “There is no evidence that whatever the Russians did had any effect on the outcome of the election.”
McFarland, 66, surfaces anew mostly because she was in contact with retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn the day Obama imposed the new measures aimed at Putin.
Flynn had discussed the sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Flynn has pleaded guilty about lying to the FBI about the conversation.
When Flynn became national security adviser, McFarland, an ally of then-Trump adviser Steve Bannon, became Flynn’s deputy — returning to the federal government after a 30-year absence.
Now, top Senate Democrats have called for McFarland to testify on the Flynn mess. The New York Times reported some of her emails may contradict earlier testimony.
She already has reportedly spoken with investigators for special counsel Robert Mueller.
Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in June, McFarland was one of only a few Trump picks for a foreign envoy post who unequivocally agreed that Russia made efforts to meddle in the U.S. election.
But in 2013, when President Barack Obama was contemplating an air attack in Syria that she opposed, McFarland hailed Putin as a hero.
McFarland said in a commentary for Fox News: “In one of the most deft diplomatic maneuvers of all time, Russia’s President Putin has saved the world from near-certain disaster.
“He did so without the egotistical but incompetent American president, or his earnest but clueless Secretary of State, even realizing they had been offered a way out of the mess they’d created . . .
“The world knows that Vladimir Putin is the one who really deserves that Nobel Peace Prize.”
Over the years, McFarland has found herself called on to explain other controversial, sometimes rambling statements.
In 2006, she tried to become the Republican nominee against Sen. Hillary Clinton, who was then running for a second term in New York.
She made remarks about the Clinton campaign trying to spy on her by flying helicopters low over her Southampton house and by renting an apartment across her house on Park Avenue in Manhattan.
McFarland later insisted she was joking. Her campaign imploded, but not before she also was rebuked for accusing the eventual GOP nominee, John Spencer, of bigamy.