Harward turns down Trump's offer to be security adviser
Retired vice-admiral says decision was a ‘purely a personal issue’
Sources familiar with the decision said Harward turned down the job in part because he wanted to bring in his own team. File photograph: Reuters
Robert Harward has turned down an offer to be US president Donald Trump’s new national security adviser in the latest blow to the administration.
The retired vice-admiral told the Associated Press that the Trump administration was “very accommodating to my needs, both professionally and personally”.
He said: “It’s purely a personal issue. I’m in a unique position finally after being in the military for 40 years to enjoy some personal time.”
Two sources familiar with the decision said Mr Harward turned down the job in part because he wanted to bring in his own team. That put him at odds with Mr Trump, who had told Flynn’s deputy, KT McFarland, that she could stay.
Asked whether he had requested to bring in his own staff at the National Security Council (NSC), Mr Harward said: “I think that’s for the president to address.”
He would have replaced Michael Flynn, who resigned at Mr Trump’s request on Monday after revelations that he misled vice-president Mike Pence about discussing sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the US during the transition.
Mr Trump said in a news conference on Thursday that he was disappointed by how the retired general had treated Mr Pence, but did not believe Mr Flynn had done anything wrong by having the conversations.
Mr Harward, a former Navy Seal, served as deputy commander of US Central Command under James Mattis, who is now defence secretary.
Mr Harward served on the NSC under president George W Bush and commissioned the National Counter Terrorism Centre.
He retired in 2013 after a nearly 40-year career in the Navy, and became chief executive officer for defence and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin in the United Arab Emirates.
Mr Trump has recently been in very public negotiations with Lockheed over the cost of its F-35 fighter jet.
Officials said earlier this week there were two other contenders in the running for the job, acting national security adviser Keith Kellogg and David Petraeus.
Mr Petraeus, a retired general, resigned as CIA director in 2012 and pleaded guilty to a charge of mishandling classified information relating to documents he had provided to his biographer, with whom he was having an affair.
He was also fined $100,000 (€93, 945) and remains on probation.