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Top Trump national security official to leave White House, as new national security advisor consolidates power

 (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)
(Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

President Trump has signed off on the departure of a top White House national security official, part of a slow-rolling shake-up that consolidates the influence of Trump's new national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, said a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss her departure.

K.T. McFarland, the principal deputy national security advisor, is expected to leave the White House in the next few weeks once Trump formally nominates her to be U.S. ambassador to Singapore.

McFarland was an early supporter of Trump during the campaign and advocated inside the White House for a military buildup and a muscular U.S. presence overseas. She had previously served in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations and was a Fox News contributor.

McFarland had worked closely with Trump's first national security advisor, Michael Flynn, who was forced out in February after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his phone calls with the Russian ambassador.

Since Trump brought in McMaster, an Army lieutenant general, to run the National Security Council, Trump has allowed McMaster to pick his team. McMaster bristled at McFarland's brash, shoot-from-the-hip style, and her contempt for working through the long-standing, deliberative communications channels with agencies, a U.S. official who has attended meetings with McMaster and McFarland said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe internal meetings.

McFarland's departure is another sign that as Trump nears his 100th day in office, he is empowering cooler heads to run his White House.

Last week, Trump removed chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon from a permanent seat on the National Security Council. Trump was criticized for giving Bannon unusual influence over key military and intelligence decisions.

Singapore is an important financial center in Asia that is seen as crucial to countering China's influence in the region. In addition, Singapore's security services work closely with U.S. intelligence.

When asked about McFarland, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer declined to discuss a personnel change that had not yet been publicly announced.

"McMaster has the president's confidence to ensure that our National Security Council is shaped in a manner that best serves the president of the United States in every way, shape and form," Spicer said.

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