Normally that’s something a person says on the way out of an administration, not as a reason for not going into one. After retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward declined a job offer to replace Michael Flynn as national security adviser — an offer that had leaked out two days earlier — rumors had it that Harward balked because of an issue over staffing. Not so, says White House chief of staff Reince Priebus; Harward’s family vetoed the move after 40 years of service:
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) February 17, 2017
“It’s a reasonable thing,” Priebus says about Harward’s demurral — and he’s right. After 40 years in the military and now having an opportunity to start building some financial security in the private sector, it’s very reasonable to think twice about getting back into a 24/7 grind. However, the leak that an offer had actually been made makes it a little more uncomfortable for the Trump administration. Small wonder Trump’s getting frustrated by leaks, and not just Trump in the White House, either.
So where does that leave Trump? He still has General Keith Kellogg as an interim nat-sec adviser, and Trump sent a signal that he may just keep him there. And by sending a signal, I mean …
General Keith Kellogg, who I have known for a long time, is very much in play for NSA – as are three others.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017
Politico notes that some skepticism exists that Kellogg will get the job, and that David Petraeus is still among the three others on the shortlist:
Some national security figures previously said they doubted that Kellogg would fill the NSA job permanently. One retired general who has known Kellogg for decades, Barry McCaffrey, told POLITICO early Tuesday that Kellogg is a “good man” but predicted that “he won’t be the selection.”
One name thrown around has been former CIA director David Petraeus, who was scheduled to meet with Trump this week. Two White House officials told POLITICO on Monday night that his higher profile and personal baggage hurt his initial chances, though.
Our friend Hugh Hewitt has a suggestion, which he broached in an interview with Face the Nation host John Dickerson of CBS. There’s one man whose nat-sec views match up well with Trump’s, but who didn’t get a job at the State Department as some assumed he might. How about … John Bolton?
HH: That’s exactly it, and that’s why I’m hoping he calls up Ambassador Bolton today and asks him to run the NSC. It will take John Bolton, who mastered bureaucratic infighting at State and the UN and earlier at Defense about two days to reorganize and get that place working. But I don’t know that the President’s going to do that. He’s going to Boeing today visiting a plant in South Carolina that President Obama assiduously avoided for eight years because it’s not a union plant.
HH: Sending a message, and I keep trying to focus on the signal, not the noise of the press conference – the Gorsuch nomination, the Mattis comments in NATO. I actually think, and I wrote this in the Washington Post today, the media handwringing is getting to me, John. I think it’s just too much alarmism.
JD: (laughing) I’m thinking that was a short trip for you, Hugh.
Why not? He’s done some nat-sec work as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control, his four-year gig for George W. Bush before getting a recess appointment as UN Ambassador. He’s also been on the Council on Foreign Relations, among other think-tank affiliations. He’s as well versed on nat-sec as some other presidential selections, some of whom have come strictly out of the academic world. Right now, though, the trendline on Trump appointments has started to run toward the conventional rather than out-of-the-box, and with Kellogg already in place, Trump might prefer to quietly stick with the status quo.