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20 February 2017

Trump searches for new security chief

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Retired Vice-Admiral Robert Harward turned down the job last week

US President Donald Trump is interviewing candidates for the position of national security adviser.

He has selected four candidates: adviser Keith Kellogg; former UN ambassador John Bolton; Lt Gen H R McMaster; and Lt Gen Robert Caslen.

The role became vacant when Lt Gen Michael Flynn was fired after just three weeks and three days in the job.

Mr Trump’s first choice, Retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward, turned down the role, citing “personal reasons”.

Gen Flynn stepped down after misleading Vice-President Mike Pence over his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the US.

When asked about speculation that he was not allowed to bring his own staff at the National Security Council, Mr Harward told the Associated Press: “I think that’s for the president to address.”

Retired general and former CIA chief David Petraeus is also no longer a candidate, Mr Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer said on Saturday.

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David Petraeus (left) is now out of the running but Keith Kellogg (right) is still a candidate

Mr Petraeus retired as CIA director in 2012 after it emerged he had given top-secret material to his biographer, with whom he was also having an extramarital affair.

Robert Caslen, an Army lieutenant general who is the superintendent of the US Military Academy at West Point.

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Lt Gen Robert Caslen (left) and John Bolton (right) are both set to be interviewed

John Bolton is a career diplomat and lawyer rather than a military man, and served as George W Bush’s hawkish ambassador to the United Nations from August 2006 to December 2006.

President Trump deflected accusations that he was struggling to find a replacement for Gen Flynn, telling reporters on Air Force One on Saturday that he had “many, many that want the job”.

The president is spending the weekend at his properties in Florida for the third week in a row. He has called his Florida Mar-a-Lago club the “Southern White House”.

On Saturday, Mr Trump held what the White House called “a campaign rally for America” in Florida in which he again attacked the media, saying they did not want to “report the truth”.

The comments came two days after he held a press conference criticising the media, whom he later referred to as “the enemy of the people”.

In response, the Republican senator John McCain told NBC: “If you want to preserve democracy as we know it you have to have a free and, many times, adversarial press and without it I’m afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started.”

Source: BBC

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