Kellogg Ready to Take Top Security Post If Trump Offers, Source SaysBy
Trump plans to interview contenders this weekend in Florida
Initial choice for Flynn’s replacement turned down president
Retired Army Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg, who’s serving as acting White House national security adviser, has told associates he would take the post permanently if President Donald Trump offered it, a person familiar with the matter said.
John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and retired Army General H.R. McMaster are also under consideration, a second person familiar with the matter said.
After being turned down by his first choice to replace Michael Flynn, Trump said Friday on Twitter that Kellogg “is very much in play” to get the post as his top White House adviser on security matters, as are three others he didn’t name. Kellogg has been aboard Air Force One with Trump today as the president travels to South Carolina and Florida.
Trump plans to meet with candidates for the post this weekend while at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, an administration official said.
Flynn resigned on Feb. 13 following revelations he misled administration officials over his contact with a Russian envoy. Trump’s initial choice for a replacement, retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward, the chief executive of Lockheed Martin United Arab Emirates, informed Trump on Thursday that he wouldn’t take the job, according to two administration officials who requested anonymity because the offer wasn’t made public.
Discussions with Harward, a former deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, to replace Flynn had begun last week. Harward, who also served on the National Security Council under former President George W. Bush, met again with White House officials on Feb. 13, the day Flynn resigned, according to a senior administration official.
The first person familiar with the discussions said at least two other retired generals, former CIA director David Petraeus and former National Security Agency chief Keith Alexander, also are under consideration.
Trump asked Flynn to resign following news reports that he had discussed sanctions levied against Russia in a conversation with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, despite insisting he hadn’t done so.
The revelations surrounding Flynn -- and an ensuing report from the New York Times that, despite public denials, Trump campaign aides and associates had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence officials before his election -- have prompted bipartisan calls for investigation, and thrown the fledgling White House into chaos.
During a news conference Thursday, Trump defended Flynn, saying the retired army general “was just doing his job” and had done nothing wrong. He also said he wasn’t aware of any contacts between his associates and Russian officials during the campaign. He’s instead focused his ire on those in the intelligence community he blames for leaking information about his team’s contacts with Russia.
— With assistance by Keri Geiger, and Margaret Talev