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

The Oxford-educated K.T. McFarland represents a break from some of the more inexperienced names which Trump has floated for his administration.
Kathleen Troia 'KT' McFarland poses at her home in New York, on Mar 6, 2006.JASON DECROW / ASSOCIATED PRESS

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 one-time Fox News analyst, as a deputy national security adviser, a transition official told NBC News.

A Fox News spokesperson confirmed Friday that McFarland's contract has been terminated on the heels of Trump offering her the position, a necessary step in order for her to serve in his administration.

Trump 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, a partner at Jones Day, is Trump's campaign lawyer and is currently advising the transition effort.

Kathleen Troia 'KT' McFarland poses at her home in New York, on Mar 6, 2006.JASON DECROW / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Politico has reported that McGahn, who has longstanding familial ties to the Trump organization and an "inside the Beltway" background as a former chairman of the FEC, 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 and potential Constitutional crisis for the incoming administration.

“Don has a brilliant legal mind, excellent character and a deep understanding of constitutional law,” said President-elect Trump in a statement on Friday. “He will play a critical role in our administration, and I am grateful that he is willing to serve our country at such a high-level capacity.”

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.

Image: President-Elect Donald Trump Holds Meetings At His Trump Tower Residence In New York
Don McGahn, general counsel for the Trump transition team, gets into an elevator in the lobby at Trump Tower in New York, on Nov.15, 2016.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

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."

“I am proud that KT has once again decided to serve our country and join my national security team,” said President-elect Trump in an official statement, which boasted praise for McFarland's appointment from the likes of former Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman and Robert C. “Bud” McFarlane, President Ronald Reagan’s former National Security Adviser. “She has tremendous experience and innate talent that will complement the fantastic team we are assembling, which is crucial because nothing is more important than keeping our people safe.”

“The American people chose Donald J. Trump to lead them for a reason,” added Ms. McFarland in her own official statement, released by the Trump team. “He has the courage, brilliance and energy to Make America Great Again, and nobody has called foreign policy right more than President-elect Trump, and he gets no credit for it. I’m honored and humbled that he has asked me to be part of his team.”