Trump Meets Finalists; May Expand Search For National Security Adviser

· Feb. 20, 2017, 11:19 am

President Trump, who spent the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, held another round of interviews for the position of national security adviser.

Trump interviewed four finalists on Sunday: acting adviser Keith Kellogg, who is a retired three-star Army general; former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton; Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, an Army strategist; and Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr., superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

“We may have some additional meetings and names on Monday, and may also meet with a couple of those people again,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters in Florida.

Last week, Michael Flynn resigned from the position after he misled Vice President Mike Pence and others about a phone call he had with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

Trump’s first choice to fill the job after Flynn’s departure, retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward, turned it down, citing family and financial reasons.

The national security adviser does not require Senate confirmation.

As Trump works to narrow the choice, The Washington Post reports:

Mr. Trump told reporters on Saturday that he had a favorite, although he did not identify the candidate. “I’ve been thinking about someone for the last three or four days; we’ll see what happens,” he said. “I’m meeting with that person. They’re all good; they’re all great people.”

White House officials reportedly clarified on Sunday that the new adviser would have autonomy over staffing decisions, an issue that has been reported to have discouraged some other candidates.

Reuters reports:

Trump’s first choice to fill the job after Flynn’s departure, Vice Admiral Robert Harward, turned it down, citing family and financial reasons. Another potential choice, David Petraeus, a retired general and former CIA chief who resigned in 2012 over an extramarital affair, was cut from the president’s short list. Sources familiar with the candidates’ thinking said they both wanted control over staffing of their team, and Trump was reluctant to grant that authority.

Trump also discussed other issues over the weekend, according to The Associated Press.

While in Florida, the president found time for a few holes of golf on Saturday and Sunday. And with his wife, Melania, he stopped by a fundraiser Saturday night at his private Palm Beach club, put on by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Trump also took to Twitter to explain a comment he made about violence in Sweden at a Saturday rally. He suggested that some kind of major incident had taken place in the country Friday night, but on Sunday he said he was referring to something he saw on Fox News. That might have been a report Friday night about the influx of immigrants to Sweden.

Trump also spoke to the leaders of Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago.

This was the third straight weekend that Trump spent at Mar-A-Lago, but he returns to Washington on Monday.

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