McFarland to Exit White House as McMaster Consolidates Power

  • Ex-Fox News commentator to be tapped as Singapore envoy
  • Trump’s second national security advisor shaking things up

K. T. McFarland has been asked to step down as deputy National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump after less than three months and is expected to be nominated as ambassador to Singapore, according to a person familiar with White House personnel moves.

The departure of the 65-year-old former Fox News commentator comes as Trump’s second National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, puts his own stamp on the National Security Council after taking over in February from retired General Michael Flynn.

McFarland proved not to be a good fit at the NSC, the person said, adding that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly was involved in the decision as well.

Her removal follows a reorganization of the NSC in the past week that removed Stephen Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor, from the principals committee, the Cabinet-level interagency forum that advises the president on pressing security matters.

Other officials, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were brought back onto the committee as “regular attendees,” reversing a move made in January. The changes were outlined in a presidential memorandum dated April 4.

Former Goldman Sachs executive Dina Powell stays on as another deputy national security adviser, and a second person is expected to be named to a similar role to replace McFarland.

Personnel Changes

Trump’s young White House has been marked by several personnel changes, including the reassignment of Katie Walsh, its first deputy chief of staff, and reported infighting between the camps of Bannon on the one hand and adviser/Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner on the other. In that clash, the pair were asked to iron out their differences, which have played out in the media, and concentrate on backing the president’s agenda.

McMaster looked to minimize the significance of the demotion of Bannon, former executive chairman of Breitbart News, which came as the president was weighing options for action against Syria, his administration’s first major decision on a military intervention.

“This is not as significant as it appears,” said the 54-year-old Army lieutenant general. “Steve Bannon provides the president with advice on a broad range of issues and will continue to do so.”

Kathleen Troia (K.T.) McFarland was brought to the White House by Flynn, who was fired for not disclosing his level of contacts with Russia to the president or vice president. A staff member of the NSC in the 1970s, McFarland lost a bid for the 2006 Republican Party U.S. Senate nomination in New York.

The most recent U.S. ambassador to Singapore, Florida attorney and Barack Obama fundraiser Kirk Wagar, departed in January upon Trump’s inauguration. McFarland’s appointment would be subject to Senate confirmation.

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