Kushner, McFarland talked to Flynn about Russia

Three sources with knowledge of the situation say top White House aide Jared Kushner was the “very senior” official who spoke with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on Dec. 22 about the pending UN Security Council debate vote on Israeli settlements, CBS News’ Major Garrett reports.
Three sources with knowledge of the situation tell CBS News that K.T. McFarland was the “senior official” on the Presidential Transition Team (PTT) Flynn spoke to in Mar-a-Lago on Dec. 29 about Russia sanctions and potential Russian reaction.
These contacts are potentially meaningful if they can be linked to behavior that is criminal or conspiratorial. But no evidence has yet surfaced to indicate either – criminality or conspiracy.

Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI on Friday, and CBS News has confirmed U.S. law enforcement officials have long suspected Flynn did not engage the Russian ambassador without being directed to do so.
The court documents from prosecutors revealed Friday also indicate multiple officials of the Trump presidential transition team were aware of Flynn’s communication with the Russian ambassador, as well as the topics discussed.
Flynn made the guilty plea in federal court in Washington, D.C. on Friday, admitting to lying to the FBI as it investigated Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Flynn turned himself into the FBI early Friday morning, and was processed and charged. Flynn’s misleading of the FBI took place while Donald Trump was president-elect.
A document filed with the court by the special counsel says that Flynn “did willfully and knowingly make materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statements and representations” to the FBI regarding his interaction with then-Russian Envoy Sergey Kislyak. In early December, after the election, he Kushner met with Kislyak at Trump Tower. On Dec. 29, Flynn called Kislyak five times, and the two spoke about sanctions against Russia that had just been imposed by President Obama over Russia’s meddling in the U.S. 2016 elections.
According to court documents released Friday, a “very senior member” of the Trump transition team in December 2016 directed Flynn to contact Russia and officials from other foreign governments to determine where they stood on an Israeli settlement U.N. resolution, influence those governments and delay the vote or defeat the resolution.
“On or about December 22, 2016, a very senior member of the Presidential Transition Team directed FLYNN to contact officials from foreign governments, including Russia, to learn where each government stood on the resolution and to influence those governments to delay the vote or defeat the resolution,” the statement of offense against Flynn reads.
Kushner directing Flynn to talk to the Russians about a Security Council matter is not necessarily criminal or conspiratorial based on what has been divulged by the Special Counsel office. It was a matter of interest to the Obama Administration and the in-coming administration and dealt with Israel, a long-standing US ally.
Similarly, a conversation between McFarland and Flynn about possible Russian reaction to new sanctions is not – by itself – criminal or conspiratorial. It is a question any incoming administration would want to pursue and any incoming administration might want to inquire about a sanctions matter escalating very soon after assuming office.
Ty Cobb, White House counsel, distanced the White House from Flynn in a statement.
“Today, Michael Flynn, a former national security advisor at the White House for 25 days during the Trump administration, and a former Obama administration official, entered a guilty plea to a single count of making a false statement to the FBI,” Cobb said in a statement.
“The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year. Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn. The conclusion of this phase of the Special Counsel’s work demonstrates again that the Special Counsel is moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion.”

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Republican Women in Alabama Sound Off on Roy Moore

By Charles Bethea4:26 P.M.

“If that guy doesn’t think I need to be anywhere but the kitchen birthing babies, he can kiss my ass,” one member of the Alabama Republican Party said, of Roy Moore.Photograph by Brynn Anderson / AP

On Wednesday evening, ThinkProgress reported that Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for Alabama’s open Senate seat, co-authored a 2011 textbook called “Law and Government: An Introductory Study Course.” The book’s Amazon page, which includes a single rating, of five stars, states that the book “provides an understanding of today’s legal, moral, and ethical issues of law and government.” One of its subjects is the appropriate role of women in society. As ThinkProgress notes, the book, which consists of lectures by several men, “instructs students that women should not be permitted to run for elected office. If women do run for office, the course argues, people have a moral obligation not to vote for them.” Additionally, the book criticizes the women’s-suffrage movement. Another of its authors is Doug Phillips, a proponent of so-called Biblical patriarchy who resigned from Vision Forum—a now-defunct evangelical organization, which helped produce the textbook—after admitting to an affair with a girl who later filed a suit alleging that Phillips began grooming her for sexual abuse when she was fifteen.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for Moore told The Washingtonian that “Judge Moore has never stated or believed that women are unqualified for public office.” I spent much of yesterday speaking with Republican women in Alabama who either have worked or continue to work for conservative causes and candidates. I asked them how Moore’s connection to the Vision Forum textbook could affect the support he receives in the December 12th election, which recent polls give him an edge to win over the Democrat, Doug Jones. (Jones had previously surged ahead in some polling, partly on the strength of female support, but his momentum seems to have ebbed.) Most of the women answered on the record, despite the negative repercussions that doing so could have on their party standing. Elizabeth BeShears is a political-communications consultant based in Birmingham. “In Alabama, we talk all the time about how, historically, the men run but the women are the ones who get them elected,” BeShears told me. “As a woman who has worked hard to get Republicans elected to office, at all levels in the state, it’s extremely worrying to me to know that somebody who’s supposed to represent us at one of the highest levels in the country doesn’t think I’m good enough to serve in any capacity in political leadership.”
BeShears went on, “For folks under forty in particular, Roy Moore has been a source of embarrassment—not a source of pride—for the majority of our lives. We don’t want to reward that by putting him in the Senate, where he’ll have an even larger stage—or pulpit, as he probably imagines it—to talk about his brand of Christianity. It’s time that the Republican Party in Alabama knows that we’re not going to stand for being told that they have to vote for a person just because they have an ‘R’ beside their name.” Who would BeShears vote for? “I am prayerfully considering voting for Doug Jones.”
Another powerful female figure in the state Party, who asked to remain unnamed, was more explicit. The textbook’s anti-woman argument was, for her, one of the most damning stories about Moore so far. “Does that mean our governor shouldn’t be governor?” she asked, referring to Kay Ivey. “Our Supreme Court Chief Justice shouldn’t be Supreme Court Chief Justice, and our Republican Party state chairwoman shouldn’t be chairwoman?” (Those positions are currently held by Lyn Stuart and Terry Lathan, respectively.) “Because, I’ll tell you, I wasn’t gonna vote at all until this morning,” she continued. “I wasn’t gonna vote for Moore or Jones. Now I’m voting for Doug Jones. Because if that guy”—Moore—“doesn’t think I need to be anywhere but the kitchen birthing babies, he can kiss my ass.” She added, “I can’t say it publicly because it’ll ruin my career, and I don’t know how to do anything other than politics in Alabama. I would be without income tomorrow. I can’t stand up and say anything. But if I’m not good enough to be in government, then I’m not good enough to vote for him, either.”
Collier Tynes describes herself as a “Christian, pro-life conservative and lifelong Republican.” Until earlier this year, Tynes worked as the chief of staff to the former Alabama First Lady Dianne Bentley, who is now the ex-wife of the disgraced governor Robert Bentley. Tynes played down the impact of the textbook. “At this point, lifelong Republicans are not surprised by Judge Moore’s association with a book that takes scripture out of context and preaches invalid beliefs,” Tynes told me. “It’s the credible allegations of child molestation against Judge Moore that rightfully have pro-life Christians staying home on Election Day or surrendering their votes to a Republican write-in candidate.” Tynes declined to publicly state for whom she would be voting, though, as she has said elsewhere, it would not be Moore.
Then there are those female supporters of Moore for whom the textbook revelation is, to quote Alabama’s state auditor Jim Zeigler, much ado about very little. Debbie Dooley, the co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party and a Moore backer, argued, in an e-mail, that just because Moore was one of the textbook’s authors doesn’t mean that he shares all the views within it. “It is like being part of an event, but you don’t necessarily agree with all the speakers,” she wrote. She went on, “I don’t believe for a minute that he believes that way. He has too many strong women around him, including his wife Kayla. He also had Sarah Palin campaign for him and has praised her.” As ThinkProgress reported, Moore has never publicly endorsed a female candidate for office.
BeShears told me that she fears that this latest revelation will have a marginal effect on the vote. “People have made up their minds about voting for him or not—barring something just absolutely crazy coming out in the next week and a half,” she said, adding, “It’s sad to me to have to say that, in the context of Moore’s reputation, this textbook thing isn’t fatal. It would sink a lot of other people. But he has such a loyal base that I don’t know what it would take to get them not to vote for him.” Tynes was slightly more optimistic but, nonetheless, sounded despairing about the situation. “Defending victims of childhood molestation and the importance of women in government should not be controversial. Thus, the Alabama Republican Party’s continued support of Roy Moore has put lifelong Republican voters in a horrible position.”

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