President Donald J. Trump expressed regret and sadness today when he announced his nominee to serve as the ambassador to Singapore withdrew her name from the confirmation process.
“I am disappointed that K.T. McFarland has withdrawn from consideration to be Ambassador to Singapore. K.T. served my administration with distinction,” said the president of McFarland, who was a foreign policy advisor during the campaign and who served as an assistant to the president and the deputy national security advisor.
“Unfortunately, some Democrats chose to play politics rather than move forward with a qualified nominee for a critically important post,” the president said.
“I wish K.T. the best as she uses her considerable wisdom and skill as a commentator to explain to the American people how to make American foreign policy great again,” he said.
The Wisconsin-born McFarland has had a long career in Republican foreign policy, beginning with her work and an office assistant to Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger during the administrations of presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford.
McFarland returned to the White House as a speechwriter and national security staffer for President Ronald W. Reagan, in addition to a stint at the Pentagon overseeing the Defense Department’s public affairs operation.
Before she returned to the White House under Trump, McFarland started a family, ran for the Senate against Sen. Hillary R. Clinton (D.-N.Y.) in 2006 and worked as commentator and correspondent for Fox News.
The appointment to Singapore was prompted by the Feb. 13, 2017 resignation of her boss, the National Security Advisor retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn and the reality that Flynn’s replacement Army Lt. Gen. Herbert R. “HR” McMaster wanted to build his own team–a team free from connections to the president and his campaign that could impede his desire to run his own shop.
When McFarland left his staff in May, McMaster said, “She initiated and laid the foundation of the first strategic policy reviews that the NSC will continue to build upon. K.T. is leaving a great team in place to support the President, and our friends in Singapore know they are getting one of his top aides as their American ambassador.”
At the time, Trump said that McFarland will always be a part of his team.
“While I am sorry to lose her, K.T.’s work in developing policies that put American interests first will have a lasting impact,” the president said. “She will remain an essential team member as she fulfills this new and important role.”
Sen. Cory A. Booker (R.-N.J.) took a victory lap on Twitter when McFarland’s withdrawal was announced.
It's not "playing politics" to expect a nominee to be truthful when testifying before Congress. It's the bare minimum – and K.T. McFarland failed to meet this standard.https://t.co/bSTIVhRKzX pic.twitter.com/4jq2wnF3l9
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) February 2, 2018
In an all-too-familiar scenario, before her July 20 confirmation hearing, Booker submitted a series of written questions, including one about McFarland’s knowledge of the Flynn’s Dec. 29, 2016 phone call with Russian Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak.
In her written answer, McFarland responded: “I am not aware of any of the issues or events described above.”
It was an answer forced upon her because, as New Yorker reported, the General Services Administration told the White House team working with McFarland that all of the Trump transition team’s records were being sealed pending a request from the office of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
What made the scenario familiar is that once again, a Democratic senator asked a Trump administration nominee a question, where the nominee was relying on memory and the Democrat seemed to have access to the precise record.
While McFarland could not get access to her transition team emails, emails from her referring to the very Flynn-Kislyak conversation Booker was asking about were printed in the Dec. 2 The New York Times and came into the possession of Booker.
Flush with evidence of McFarland’s “false testimony” Booker, using a senatorial privilege, Booker put a hold on the nomination.
Despite the stiffened opposition to her nomination, Trump resubmitted her name for the Singapore posting Jan. 8, but in the end, the former Kissinger office girl called it off.