Trump adviser KT McFarland set to leave White House role

Deputy national security adviser expected to become ambassador to Singapore with former Goldman Sachs executive Dina Powell rising in new shakeup

Donald Trumps deputy national security adviser, KT McFarland, is expected to step down and has been offered the position of ambassador to Singapore, a US official told Reuters on Sunday.

The news came at the end of a week of major foreign policy developments, including a missile strike on Syria and diplomatic and military moves against North Korea, in which Trump removed his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, from the national security council.

Bannons removal, amid reports of infighting between the former Breitbart publisher and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, was made at the urging of HR McMaster. The retired general is reshaping the team he inherited from another retired general, Michael Flynn, who resigned as Trumps first national security adviser.

Flynn was forced to resign on 13 February over his contacts with Russias ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, during Trumps campaign.

McFarland, 65, is a former national security analyst for Fox News and was one of Trumps first hires after he was elected president in November.

Her removal from the NSC represents a further effort to depoliticise the body and distance the administration from any connection to Flynn. McFarland was reported to have initially resisted but later accepted the reassignment. An official speaking on condition of anonymity told the Associated Press the administration was still awaiting approval from Singapore. The post requires Senate confirmation.

Such a move will elevate Dina Powell, a former Goldman Sachs executive who worked for the George W Bush administration and for Republicans in Congress and who has been serving as deputy national security adviser for strategy.

At Goldman, Powell led the banks non-profit foundation and oversaw the 10,000 Women initiative, a mentoring and networking program. In Trumps transition team, she worked with Ivanka Trump on issues related to entrepreneurship, small businesses and womens empowerment.

Powell, who speaks Arabic having moved to the US from Egypt at the age of four, was also reportedly asked by Kushner, Ivanka Trumps husband, to suggest ways private sector ideas could inform the overhaul of the federal government with which he has been tasked.

Powells ascent is part of an apparent White House power shift away from arch-conservatives like Bannon and towards the more liberal-minded Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

News of McFarlands likely reassignment came at the end of significant foreign-policy focused week. Trump ordered airstrikes against a Syrian airbase that drew praise in many parts of the world and staged an error-free Florida summit with Chinese president Xi Jinping.

Whether such moves can start to put an end to reports of factional infighting within the administration remains to be seen.

On Saturday, a senior administration official said Bannon and Kushner had agreed to bury the hatchet, in a bid to stop infighting that has distracted from Trumps message.

However, other figures with knowledge of the administrations political makeup told news outlets chief of staff Reince Priebuss job could be under threat if he is unable to stop the feuding.

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