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Donald Trump’s national security aide likely to be Singapore envoy

The administration is still awaiting approval from Singapore and the post requires senate confirmation.

world Updated: Apr 10, 2017 09:37 IST
AP, Florida
Singapore envoy,Donald Trump,National Security Council
Deputy national security adviser KT McFarland.(AP File Photo)

US President Donald Trump’s deputy national security adviser is likely to be the latest official heading out in an ongoing shuffle within the national security council.

KT McFarland, who is in line to be US ambassador to Singapore, came into the White House as a deputy to Trump’s first national security adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn was asked to resign in February amid revelations that he misled senior administration officials about his contacts with Russian government officials.

McFarland’s impending move was confirmed on Sunday by a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official announcement hasn’t been made. The administration is still awaiting approval from Singapore and the post requires senate confirmation.

Flynn’s replacement, Lt General HR McMaster, has freely made changes to the national security structure since assuming the role. McMaster immediately expressed a desire to run a less hierarchical organisation and be more accessible to his staff.

Another White House official Dina Powell was recently named deputy national security adviser for strategy and has been present in the recent high level meetings with delegations from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and China.

Powell joined the White House to work with Trump’s daughter Ivanka on women’s empowerment issues. She had previously served as assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs under President George W Bush before joining Goldman Sachs.

But Powell soon began attending senior-level staff meetings with the president himself. Her promotion to deputy national security adviser last month triggered early speculation that McFarland’s days on the national security council were numbered.

On Thursday, as the president huddled with top national security and Cabinet officials to trigger US missile strikes on Syrian government installations from a newly built situation room at Trump’s Florida resort, Powell was among the attendees. McFarland was not.

McFarland was working as a Fox News analyst before joining Trump’s national security team. She previously worked for three Republican presidents — Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.

Among the most notable changes to take place under McMaster was the removal of Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon reversing an earlier, contentious decision to give Bannon access to the group’s highest-level meetings.

A senior White House official said Bannon was initially placed on the council during Flynn’s tenure as a measure to ensure implementation of the president’s vision, including efforts to downsize and streamline operations at the NSC, and that McMaster quickly gained the confidence of the administration, eliminating the need for additional oversight.

A new memorandum about the council’s composition, published on Wednesday in the Federal Register, also reflected that the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, as well as the energy secretary, had been restored as members of the principals committee.

The changes come as Trump’s White House faces allegations that it funneled secret intelligence reports to a Republican congressman leading an investigation into his campaign’s possible ties to Russian officials as well as Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election.

The New York Times last month identified two NSC officials as having helped House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes view secret reports that showed Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies.

The senior White House official said the changes were not in response to the recent controversy linked to the NSC.

First Published: Apr 10, 2017 09:37 IST