K.T. McFarland renominated as US Ambassador to S'pore

Ms K. T. McFarland's confirmation process may be rocky due to questions over the Russia issue.
Ms K. T. McFarland's confirmation process may be rocky due to questions over the Russia issue.

Kathleen Troia "K.T." McFarland, a former deputy national security adviser to United States President Donald Trump, has been renominated as Ambassador to Singapore.

Her renomination was sent to the Senate for confirmation, the White House announced on Monday, but 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 last year.

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 Nov 8, 2016, election.

Ms McFarland had testified to the Senate in July last year 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 had voiced concern 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 last February 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, and for a period was a contributor to Fox News on security issues.

Ms McFarland is seen as close to Mr Trump.

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2018, with the headline 'K.T. McFarland renominated as US Ambassador to S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe