Robert Harward reportedly turns down national security adviser post

Keri Geiger and Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- Robert Harward, a retired U.S. Navy vice admiral, turned down President Donald Trump's offer to become national security adviser, officials said, just days after the resignation of Michael Flynn following revelations he misled administration officials over his contact with Russia.

Harward, the chief executive of Lockheed Martin United Arab Emirates, who served on the National Security Council under former President George W. Bush, informed Trump Thursday about his decision not to take the job, according to the two administration officials, who requested anonymity because the offer wasn't made public.

Trump asked Flynn to resign after news reports that he had discussed sanctions levied against Russia in a conversation with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, despite insisting he had not done so.

The revelations surrounding Flynn -- and an ensuing report from The New York Times that, despite public denials, Trump campaign aides and associates had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence officials before his election -- have prompted bipartisan calls for investigation, and thrown the fledgling White House into chaos.

"I think there needs to be fulsome investigation on all angles relative to nefarious activities that were taking place with Russia, beginning in March but even going back before that time," Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican and chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, told reporters Wednesday.

During a press conference Thursday, Trump defended Flynn, saying the retired army general "was just doing his job" and had done nothing wrong.

A day earlier, the president had focused his ire on those in the intelligence community he blames for leaking information about his team's contacts with Russia.

The White House had been expected to rely on Harward's extensive background in national security, including his time serving at the National Counterterrorism Center under Bush. He has been a Navy SEAL and has commanded forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Discussions with Harward to replace Flynn had begun last week. Harward met again with White House officials on Monday, the day Flynn resigned, according to a senior administration official.

Harward's rejection was reported earlier by the Financial Times.

(With assistance from Margaret Talev.)

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