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Trump expands counselor Dina Powell’s role to include national security

Dina Habib Powell (second from right) sits alongside President Trump (far left) and Michelle DeLaune of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (second from left) during a meeting on human trafficking in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Feb. 23, 2017. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

The portfolio of one of President Trump's top economic advisers, Dina Habib Powell, is greatly expanding to include national security strategy and interagency coordination, an administration official confirmed Wednesday night.

Powell, a former Goldman Sachs executive and a veteran of President George W. Bush's administration, has been serving as Trump's senior counselor for economic initiatives, as well as advising Trump's daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, who is the president's senior adviser. Powell will take on the additional title of deputy national security adviser for strategy, reflecting her growing influence within the White House.

Powell will help Trump's newly installed national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, devise the administration's national security strategy and oversee coordination with the State Department, the Defense Department and various intelligence agencies, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the appointment had not yet been formally announced.

Politico first reported Powell's new role.

The administration official said Powell's appointment to the National Security Council represents an expansion of the senior team and should not be seen as a demotion for K.T. McFarland, who has been serving as deputy national security adviser.

McFarland began as deputy to Michael Flynn, the retired lieutenant general who served as the national security adviser for just 24 days before Trump fired him amid controversy surrounding his contacts with the Russian ambassador. McFarland's job security had been in doubt, but the administration official said she will continue in her deputy role under McMaster and serve alongside Powell.

Powell, who is Egyptian American and speaks Arabic, served in Bush's State Department under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, both as assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs and as deputy undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. She also worked in Bush's White House as assistant to the president for presidential personnel.

Powell left Washington in 2007 to join Goldman Sachs, where she climbed the ranks to serve as president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, overseeing one of the nation's largest corporate philanthropies and leading initiatives focused on developing female entrepreneurs around the world.

Powell is seen by fellow Trump advisers as exceptionally well connected, both inside the government and throughout the global business community. She has been working closely in recent weeks with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and has taken on a more visible role in foreign affairs, sitting at the head table this week during Trump's lunch with the Saudi defense minister.