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White House: Next Security Advisor to Control Security Council Staffing

  • Ken Bredemeier

President Donald Trump is interviewing at least four potential candidates to serve as his new national security adviser, including, clockwise from top left, retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg; a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton;

The person U.S. President Donald Trump selects to be his next national security advisor will have full authority over staffing decisions for the National Security Council (NSC), Trump's chief of staff said Sunday.

That issue over control was reportedly one reason former Navy admiral Robert Harward turned down the job last week.

"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," White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said on FOX News Sunday.

FILE - Vice Adm. Robert S. Harward.
FILE - Vice Adm. Robert S. Harward.

Harward was Trump's first choice to replace Michael Flynn, who was ousted after just 24 days on the job.

Trump asked Flynn, a former Army general, to resign because he misled Vice President Mike Pence about phone conversations he had with the Russian ambassador to Washington before the new administration assumed power, the White House said.

Candidates interviewed Sunday

Trump planned to interview four candidates for the position Sunday as he spent the weekend at his lavish oceanfront Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. He was reportedly discussing the job, in person or on the phone, with acting national security adviser Keith Kellogg, a retired Army general; John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Army General H.R. McMaster; and the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, General Robert Caslen.

The White House said Sunday the president may interview additional candidates for the post Monday.

Trump told reporters on Air Force One Saturday, "many, many that want the job.'' Trump said, "I've been thinking about someone for the last three or four days. We'll see what happens. I'm meeting with that person. They're all good, they're all great people.''

Turmoil

Former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday that the turmoil surrounding the key position has made U.S. national security operations "dysfunctional."

Leon Panetta (file photo)
Leon Panetta (file photo)

“What happens if there's a major crisis that faces this country?" Panetta said. "If Russia engages in a provocation, if Iran does something stupid, if North Korea does something stupid and we have to respond, where is the structure to be able to evaluate that threat, consider it, and provide options to the president?"

“Right now, that's dysfunctional, and that's what worries me a great deal," said Panetta, who also once served as director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

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