A member of Trump's transition team mentioned to a colleague in an email exchange that Russia "has just thrown the U.S.A. election to him," according to a report Saturday.
The email, from K.T. McFarland, was described by the New York Times in a report that cast doubt on public claims the White House has made distancing Trump officials from former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who on Friday pleaded guilty in federal court to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador.
Speaking to a colleague in a Dec. 29 email exchange, McFarland addressed sanctions the Obama administration slapped on Russia in retaliation for interfering in the 2016 election process. The Times said McFarland, when she mentioned the election, was explaining how the sanctions would make it more difficult for Trump improve the U.S.-Russia relationship.
The report notes that its unclear what McFarland truly meant by the comment, but White House lawyer dismissed the remark as being a nod to how Democrats were portraying the election result.
McFarland, who later served as deputy national security adviser, is now Trump's nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Singapore.
Special counsel Robert Mueller's team, along with a number of congressional panels, are investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin during the 2016 campaign.
Flynn was charged Friday on one count of “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI about communications exchanged with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak shortly after Trump took office.
He also agreed to cooperate with Mueller's team.
Asked by reporters Saturday morning if he was worried about what Flynn might tell Mueller, Trump said: "No, I am not."
Trump also insisted that "there has been absolutely no collusion" between his campaign and Russia during the 2016 campaign.