According to reports, retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward has turned down President Trump’s offer to replace Michael Flynn as national security adviser. Flynn stepped down from the position earlier this week after it came to light that he had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador prior to Trump’s inauguration and had misled Vice President Pence about the conversation.
After serving more than 30 years in the military, Harward became chief executive of defense giant Lockheed Martin’s United Arab Emirates division. He appeared to be an appropriate pick for the national security adviser role, having been familiar with it and having previously worked in the National Security Council’s counterterrorism office during President George W. Bush’s administration.
“I spent 40 years as a Naval Officer where I was deployed in combat for the bulk of my life. Since retiring I have the opportunity to address financial and family issues that would have been challenging in this position,” Harward’s statement read according to CNN’s Jake Tapper. “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.”
While Harward’s official statement cites time commitment and family as reasons for his turning down the offer, Tapper revealed that more issues may have played a role in the decision.
“A friend of Harward’s says he was reluctant to take NSA job bc the WH seems so chaotic; says Harward called the offer a “shit sandwich,” Tapper wrote on Twitter on Thursday night.
However, Harward has maintained that “it was “purely a personal issue,” saying, “I’m in a unique position finally after being the in military for 40 years to enjoy some personal time.” A person familiar with his decision added that Harward “was concerned about whether the top advisers around Mr Trump would allow him to install his own staff on the NSC — particularly after suggestions that KT McFarland, Mr Flynn’s deputy, had been asked to remain.”