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Trump Taps K.T. McFarland for National Security Post, Donald McGahn for White House Counsel

Donald Trump is continuing to build out his administration this holiday weekend.

The president-elect tapped Kathleen Troia "K.T." McFarland, a former government official and current Fox News analyst, as a deputy national security adviser, a transition official told NBC News.

He also has asked attorney Donald McGahn to serve as his White House counsel, a top transition source confirmed. The news was first reported by Reuters. McGahn is Trump's campaign lawyer and is advising the transition effort.

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Politico has reported that McGahn, who has longstanding familial ties to the Trump organization but relatively limited government experience, may be tasked with putting distance between the president-elect and his myriad of business interests, which critics have argued could present unprecedented number of conflicts of interest for incoming administration.

Meanwhile, following Trump's selections of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as U.N. ambassador and billionaire businesswoman Betsy DeVos for education secretary this week, McFarland marks just the third female appointment to his administration — featuring a Cabinet that has been criticized in some circles for being disproportionately white and male.


Kathleen (KT) McFarland in 2006.
Linda Rosier | NY Daily News Archive | Getty Images
Kathleen (KT) McFarland in 2006.

The Oxford-educated McFarland, with her experience working in the Ford and Reagan administrations in national security and defense positions, also represents a break from some of the more inexperienced names which Trump has floated for some of his administration's top jobs.

Ironically, McFarland was once seeking to run against the candidate who Trump just narrowly defeated in the presidential election — Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

In New York's U.S. Senate race in 2006, McFarland sought the GOP nomination that year to challenge Clinton's run for re-election, but fell short in the primary. Clinton would be re-elected that year in a landslide.

Her selection will likely be far less controversial than Trump's choice for national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who has been condemned for his extreme anti-Muslim rhetoric in the past, accused of conflicts of interest because of his lobbying relationships with foreign governments and described as having an unstable temperament by some of his former colleagues.

Still, neither his position, nor McFarland's or McGahn's, are subject to Senate approval.

Flynn tweeted Friday that he was happy to have McFarland on board: "So proud & honored to have KT McFarland as part of our National Security team."