Deputy national security adviser Dina Powell, a driving force behind the Trump administration’s Middle East policy, plans to leave the White House as part of an anticipated wave of departures following President Trump’s first year in office, according to four senior administration officials.
Unlike some top White House officials who were fired or resigned amid controversy earlier this year, Powell is exiting on good terms with the president, the officials said. She and Trump have discussed her departure and are working on an arrangement for Powell to continue advising the administration on Middle East policy from outside the government, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because Powell’s departure has not yet been publicly announced.
Powell committed to serving in her national security job for a full year and her decision to leave is her own, the officials said. She plans to move home early next year to New York, where her family lives.
National security adviser H.R. McMaster called Powell “one of the most talented and effective leaders with whom I have ever served.”
“Dina has been an invaluable member of President Trump’s team,” McMaster said. “She organized and drove an effort to restore our nation’s strategic competence. Dina ensured that our integrated strategies protected the American people and promoted American prosperity. Her sage advice helped provide options to the president and her strong relationships across the U.S. government and internationally helped drive execution of the president’s decisions.”
McMaster added, “All of us look forward to continuing to work with her, as she continues to support this administration’s efforts on Middle East peace and other issues.”
Powell’s departure could come as part of a staff exodus around the presidency’s one-year mark, with some senior officials eyeing the exits after a grueling first year marked at times by internal chaos.
For instance, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whose relationship with Trump has been strained, is widely expected to leave his post in coming weeks. The White House has been considering a plan to replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, a Trump loyalist.
Powell has been an all-purposes adviser on foreign policy, with a particular focus on the Middle East portfolio. She has advised Trump on his meetings with foreign leaders and planned all five of the president’s foreign trips, as well as his September visit to the United Nations General Assembly.
But Powell, like her colleagues, faces the question of how much influence she ultimately had on the president and his approach to foreign policy. Trump’s relationships with many traditional allies have been strained because of his combative statements and “America First” agenda, which European leaders, in particular, view as threatening.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey