WASHINGTON — A retired navy admiral reportedly tapped by US President Donald Trump to be his national security adviser has declined the post, US media said on Thursday.
Robert Harward’s rejection leaves President Donald Trump without a replacement for retired general Michael Flynn, who resigned over a scandal involving his links with the Russian ambassador in Washington.
Officially Harward said he had turned down the job because of family and financial commitments.
However several US media outlets, including CNN and Politico, reported late Thursday that Harward was unhappy because he had no guarantees that the National Security Council — and not Trump’s political advisers — would be in charge of policy.
In a statement read on CNN, Harward said he had turned down the job because he “could not make that commitment.”
“This job requires 24 hours a day, seven days a week focus and commitment to do it right. I currently could not make that commitment,” the statement read.
He added that since retiring he’s had a chance “to address financial and family issues that would have been challenging in this position.”
An unnamed Harward friend told CNN he refused the job because of the chaos at the White House, while the Washington Post said it was in part because he would not be able to choose his own staff.
Man of action
Harward, 60, spent much of his career in the Navy SEALs, the tough special warfare units, and commanded SEAL Team 3, which specializes in operations in the Middle East.
During his career Harward also worked closely with retired Marine Corps General James Mattis, the current defense secretary.
He led Special Warfare task groups in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq beginning in 2002. A year later, he was in the White House of President George W. Bush as part of the National Security Council, and in 2005 moved to the new National Counter-Terrorism Center.
After a tour in Afghanistan, from 2011 to his retirement in 2013 he was deputy commander of US Central Command — in charge of US military operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
After retiring Harward became a representative of defense contractor Lockheed-Martin in the United Arab Emirates and made appearances as a military expert for the ABC television network.
The shaven-head tough guy, who spent his teenage years in Iran in the 1970s and speaks Farsi, was widely seen as a steadying presence after the volatile Flynn.
Flynn resigned after being implicated in several telephone conversations with the Russian ambassador in Washington before Trump took office.
Harward’s rejection caps a riotous day for the 70-year-old US president, who earlier Thursday lambasted his critics in the media and in politics in a wide-ranging one hour, 16-minute-long press conference.