President Trump faced yet another staffing headache on Thursday evening as retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward turned down his offer to become the next national security adviser, according to multiple reports.
The rejection comes just a few days after Michael Flynn was fired from the top national security post for lying to senior White House officials about the extent of his pre-inauguration talks with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.
Harward, a retired Navy SEAL and the former Deputy Commander of the U.S. Central Command, claimed he turned down Trump’s offer for personal reasons.
“Since retiring I have the opportunity to address financial and family issues that would have been challenging in this position,” Harward said in a widely circulated statement. “Like all service members understand, and live, this job requires 24 hours a day, 7 days a week focus and commitment to do it right. I currently could not make that commitment. My thoughts and prayers are with those that carry such heavy burdens and responsibility for taking care of our country’s national security concerns. God bless this great country of ours.”
But a friend to Harward told CNN that he actually blew off the high-level position for a wholly different reason.
The friend said Harward called Trump’s offer a “s–t sandwich,” and decided not to take it because of the apparent chaos crippling the new administration.
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment from The Daily News.
After Flynn’s tumultuous resignation on Monday, the Trump administration floated a short list of potential replacements that included Harward, Lt. Gen. Joseph Kellogg and retired Army Gen. David Petraeus. Harward was considered the favorite, according to senior officials with knowledge of the matter, and Trump officially offered him the post on Tuesday, according to sources.
During an unhinged White House press conference on Thursday, Trump told reporters that Flynn was booted for not telling Vice President Pence that he had discussed sanctions against the Kremlin with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak before Inauguration Day. The conversations could have amounted to criminal behavior, according to some lawmakers.
Lt. Gen. Kellogg has been serving as acting national security adviser since Flynn’s ouster.
With News Wire Services.