Vice Admiral Robert Harward has rejected President Trump’s offer to be the new national security adviser, CBS News’ Major Garrett reports.
Sources close to the situation told Garrett Harward and the administration had a dispute over staffing the security council.
Two sources close to the situation confirm Harward demanded his own team, and the White House resisted.
Specifically, Mr. Trump told Deputy National Security Adviser K. T. McFarland that she could retain her post, even after the ouster of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Harward refused to keep McFarland as his deputy, and after a day of negotiations over this and other staffing matters, Harward declined to serve as Flynn’s replacement.
Harward, a 60-year-old former Navy SEAL, served as deputy commander of U.S. Central Command under now-Defense Secretary James Mattis.
He previously served as deputy commanding general for operations of Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
Harward has also commanded troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan for six years after the 9/11 attacks. Under President George W. Bush, he served on the National Security Council as director of strategy and policy for the office of combating terrorism.
Flynn resigned from the post amid questions about his contacts with Russian officials.
Law enforcement sources confirmed earlier this week that FBI agents had interviewed former national security adviser Michael Flynn last month. According to the Defense Intelligence Agency, Flynn’s security clearance has been suspended as investigators look into his ties to Russian officials.
At a press conference Thursday, Trump defended by attacking the press and members of the intelligence community for the “illegal process” of leaking information.
“Mike Flynn is a fine person,” he said. “He was just doing his job…I don’t think he did anything wrong.”
“He didn’t tell the vice president of the United States the facts and then he didn’t remember,” Trump said of Flynn, saying that was why he asked for Flynn’s resignation.
The real problem, Mr. Trump charged, was that “classified information that was given illegally.”