President Donald Trump's next choice for national security advisor turned down the offer, news agencies and CBS News reported on Thursday.
Trump offered the post to retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward (pictured above) after Michael Flynn resigned from the post on Monday for misleading Vice President Mike Pence on his conversations with Russia's ambassador to the United States.
Harward told the Associated Press that his rejection did not have to do with the Trump administration.
"It's purely a personal issue," he said. "I'm in a unique position finally after being in the military for 40 years to enjoy some personal time."
Two other sources told Reuters and CBS News that Harward turned down the post in part because he wanted to bring in his own staff to the National Security Council.
His decision to bring his own people put him at odds with Trump, who told Flynn's deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland that she could stay on in her role.
When asked by the Associated Press whether his decision to leave had anything to do with wanting to bring his own staff, Haward said: "I think that's for the president to address."
Harward, a former US Navy SEAL, is a senior executive at aerospace and defense company Lockheed Martin. He also served on the National Security Council under President George W. Bush.
Earlier on Thursday, Trump appeared to refer to Harward at a press conference, saying: "I have somebody that I think will be outstanding for the position."
Trump also emphasized that he asked Flynn to resign because the retired lieutenant general had not been completely honest with Pence about his discussions with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak.
"The thing is, he didn't tell our vice president properly, and then he said he didn't remember. So either way, it wasn't very satisfactory to me," Trump said.
US officials also said this week that there were two other contenders for the post - acting national security adviser Keith Kellogg and retired General David Petraeus.
Petraeus, a retired four-star general, resigned as CIA director in 2012 and pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information relating to documents he had provided his biographer. He was fined $100,000 and remains on probation.
rs/kl (AP, Reuters)