Dina Powell, Influential Foreign Policy Adviser, Is Set to Exit White House

Dina Powell, Influential Foreign Policy Adviser, Is Set to Exit White House

2017-12-09 01:48:47

WASHINGTON — Dina H. Powell, a deputy national security adviser to President Trump and one of the most influential women in the Trump administration, will step down early next year, the White House said on Friday.

Ms. Powell has been involved in an array of foreign policy issues during the last year, including Mr. Trump’s effort to broker a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians. On the president’s foreign trips, including his most recent to Asia, she regularly had a seat at the table during his meetings with other leaders.

In a White House fractured by tribal divisions, Ms. Powell has been a prominent member of the New York camp affiliated with Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Her departure will remove one of the figures who has resisted the more hard-line policies advocated by the nationalist wing associated with Stephen K. Bannon, who stepped down over the summer as the president’s chief strategist.

Ms. Powell’s influence extended beyond the national security issues that would normally be under her purview; her name was once floated as a potential White House chief of staff. But her family remained in New York while she worked in Washington, and friends have said the weekly commute, and the time away from her children, had worn on her.

“Dina has been an invaluable member of President Trump’s team,” the national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, said in a statement. “She organized and drove an effort to restore our nation’s strategic competence.”

General McMaster said Ms. Powell would continue to work on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process after leaving the White House. Officials said she might even travel to the region with Mr. Kushner and the president’s special envoy, Jason D. Greenblatt, though the prospects for an accord seem more elusive than ever after Mr. Trump’s recognition this week of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Ms. Powell, a former philanthropic executive at Goldman Sachs who served in the George W. Bush administration, arrived at the White House through Ms. Trump, with whom she worked during the transition developing proposals related to the economic empowerment of women.

But Ms. Powell soon pivoted to national security, drawing on her experience as an assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She was a key architect of Mr. Trump’s first foreign trip, which was viewed as a major success after he received a lavish welcome in Saudi Arabia and Israel.

She was also deeply involved in drafting the National Security Strategy, a document that lays out the administration’s approach to issues like nuclear proliferation and upheaval in the Middle East. Ms. Powell worked closely with Nadia Schadlow, another N.S.C. staff official, who is expected to succeed her.

Ms. Rice said Ms. Powell had been a “steadying but creative influence, no small feat in any administration but particularly in one that has really needed the experience that she brought to the job.”

An Egyptian-born Coptic Christian who grew up in Texas, Ms. Powell helped mitigate the perception that the Trump peace team was stocked with staunchly pro-Israel figures like Mr. Kushner, Mr. Greenblatt, and David M. Friedman, the ambassador to Israel — all of whom are Orthodox Jews.

Ms. Powell’s Arabic language skills also helped her negotiate with Saudi and Egyptian officials. In April, she played a role in obtaining the release of an Egyptian-American aid worker, Aya Hijazi, who was detained in Cairo. Ms. Powell, who at the time was traveling in the region with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, escorted Ms. Hijazi home.

“Dina has done a great job for the administration and has been a valued member of the Israeli-Palestinian peace team,” Mr. Kushner said in a statement. “She will continue to play a key role in our peace efforts and we will share more details on that in the future.”

Ms. Powell’s name has also surfaced in speculation about a shake-up in the administration’s foreign policy ranks. If, as expected, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson leaves his job in the coming months, a potential successor would be Nikki R. Haley, who is the American ambassador to the United Nations. With her home base in New York, Ms. Powell is viewed as a candidate for the United Nations post.

That speculation subsided in recent weeks after administration officials said Mr. Trump was leaning toward Mike Pompeo, the director of the C.I.A., as a replacement for Mr. Tillerson.

But Ms. Powell, whose office is on the second floor of the West Wing and next to Ms. Trump’s, had a good relationship with the president, according to colleagues. Although she will be one of the most prominent officials to depart since John F. Kelly took over as chief of staff, there is no indication that she was in disfavor with either Mr. Kelly or the president.

“Dina Powell has been a key, trusted adviser in this administration,” said the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “She has always planned to serve one year before returning home to New York, where she will continue to support the president’s agenda.”

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A10 of the New York edition with the headline: Influential Foreign Policy Adviser, and Ally to President’s Daughter, Will Resign. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Original Source