K.T. McFarland renominated as US ambassador to Singapore

K.T. McFarland, US President Donald Trump's former Deputy National Security Adviser, testifies during her confirmation hearing to be the US ambassador to Singapore on July 20, 2017.
K.T. McFarland, US President Donald Trump's former Deputy National Security Adviser, testifies during her confirmation hearing to be the US ambassador to Singapore on July 20, 2017.PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON - Kathleen Troia (KT) McFarland, a former deputy national security adviser to US President Donald Trump, has been renominated ambassador to Singapore, the White House has announced.

Her renomination was sent to the Senate for confirmation, the White House announced on Monday (Jan 8). It is unclear how long the confirmation process will take.

Amid the severe polarisation in Washington and questions over the Russia issue, analysts see her confirmation process as potentially rocky. 

The 66-year-old was first nominated to the post in May 2017. But in December the process was delayed over Ms McFarland's knowledge of contacts between her former boss Michael Flynn and the then Russian Ambassador to Washington Sergey Kislyak during the transitional period after the 2016 election.

Ms McFarland had testified to the Senate in July 2017 that she was "not aware of any of the issues or events" surrounding Mr Flynn's contacts with the Russian Ambassador.

But e-mails obtained by The New York Times in December showed that she had knowledge of an e-mail exchange between them.

Democratic Senators Ben Cardin and Cory Booker, who raised concerns over Ms McFarland's nomination, noted that she "may have provided information to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that conflicts with recent media reports regarding her knowledge and involvement in matters pertaining to contacts during the Trump Presidential Transition".

Her nomination was duly returned as last year's Congressional session ended without a decision on it. This necessitated her renomination.

Ms McFarland served as deputy to Mr Flynn, who was Mr Trump's first national security adviser before he was fired in February 2017 after it was revealed he had misled Vice President Mike Pence over the nature of his contacts with the Russian Ambassador.

At issue in the Flynn case, was a call between him and Mr Kislyak on Dec 29, 2016, in which he apparently urged Moscow not to react harshly to sanctions imposed by President Barack Obama following US intelligence assessments that Russia had interfered in the presidential election.

 
 
 

Ms McFarland, a mother of five grown-up children, had her appointment as Ambassador to Singapore endorsed by among others, Cold War veteran Henry Kissinger, for whom she had worked in the 1970s.

She went on to work in the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administrations on the National Security Council, in the Department of Defence, and Administration.

For a period, she was also a contributor to Fox News on security issues.

In the Ronald Reagan administration, Ms McFarland worked as a speech writer to then defence secretary Caspar Weinberger, whose 1984 "Weinberger Doctrine" laid out guidelines for circumstances in which the US should become involved in military operations overseas - and is echoed in the Trump administration's "peace through strength" approach.

Ms McFarland is seen as close to President Trump.

At a January 10 conference at the US Institute for Peace in Washington, she said: "We have a President who is going to seize this unique historic moment (and) is going to rebuild America's defences."

American values would "continue to be the bedrock, American global leadership is going to continue", she said.