The man Trump wants to replace Michael Flynn reportedly turned down the job

Robert harwardSgt. Shawn Coolman/US MarinesVice Adm. Robert S. Harward, commanding officer of Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435, speaks to an Afghan official during his visit to Zaranj, Afghanistan, in this January 6, 2011 handout photo.

The retired admiral President Donald Trump wants to replace Michael Flynn as national security adviser has turned down the job, Financial Times reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter.

Trump offered the position to retired Adm. Robert Harward on Monday, according to Tom Ricks at Foreign Policy. At the time, the former Navy SEAL commander told the president he’d need some time to “think it over.”

Now Harward has apparently said no to the offer, and Trump has asked him to return to the White House to see if his mind can be changed, according to FT’s sources.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Two White House officials confirmed to The Washington Post that Harward was at the top of Trump’s three-person short list to replace Michael Flynn, who abruptly resigned from the role after it became public that he had discussed sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the US before Trump’s inauguration. Flynn reportedly urged the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, not to overreact to the latest round of sanctions imposed by the Obama administration, indicating that incoming administration might be more inclined to roll them back.

Harward, a former Navy SEAL commander who rose to deputy commander of US Central Command before retiring in 2013, would most likely bring in his own staff for a “housecleaning” of the National Security Council, according to Ricks.

In that role, Harward would have a close ally in Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, whom he served under at Central Command. He also has NSC experience, having served on the council during the George W. Bush administration.

One of FT’s sources said Harward was concerned about whether he could carry out his “housecleaning” of NSC staff, many of whom were loyal to Flynn.

Retired Army Gen. Keith Kellogg is currently serving as acting national security adviser.

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