Trump Expects to Pick New National Security Adviser Within Days

Updated on
  • Chief of staff says post won’t come with strings attached
  • Head of West Point academy among at least four in the mix

Donald Trump expects to select a new national security adviser in the next few days after a lightning round of interviews in Florida with four or more candidates to replace Michael Flynn, who resigned last week.

The president told reporters on Air Force One on Saturday that he’s “leaning toward” one of the men he’ll interview on Sunday and that the search is going well.

Set to speak with Trump Sunday are Lieutenant General Robert Caslen, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster; former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton; and retired Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg, the acting national security adviser.

Retired General Raymond Odierno, a former Army chief of staff, is also expected to interview for the post, said a person with knowledge of the deliberations.

The meetings are taking place at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, where the president is spending a third consecutive weekend.

Flynn resigned on Feb. 13 following revelations he misled administration officials over his contact with a Russian envoy before Trump’s inauguration.

Harward Opts Out

Trump’s initial choice for a replacement, retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward, the chief executive of Lockheed Martin United Arab Emirates, informed the president on Thursday that he wouldn’t take the job, according to two administration officials who requested anonymity because the offer wasn’t made public.

Another potential pick, former CIA director David Petraeus, is no longer under consideration, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Saturday.

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said the new adviser will be given control over how the National Security Council operates -- an issue said to have been a sticking point for Harward.

“The president has said very clearly that the new director will have total and
complete say over the makeup of the NSC and all of the components of the NSC,” Priebus said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Assessing Trump’s short-list, Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, said that Bolton didn’t seem like a good fit for the current White House.

“The problem with John Bolton is he disagrees with President Trump’s foreign policy,” Paul said on ABC’s “This Week.” “His history of sort of acting on his own, my fear is that secret wars would be developing around the globe. And so, no, I think he would be a bad choice.”

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