As you’re no doubt aware by now, Donald Trump’s first national security advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn, resigned earlier this week after the true nature of communications with a Russian ambassador were revealed. Flynn had his security clearance stripped, too, and he’s facing possible legal consequences because he lied to the FBI. Meanwhile, Trump has selected a a replacement, Vice Admiral Robert Harward, who wants nothing to do with the job offer.
As Trump would say, many people would love to put a cherry on top of a decorated military career by becoming head of national security. Yet can you blame Harward — a former Navy SEAL who also served under current Defense Secretary James Mattis as deputy commander of U.S. Central Command — for not wanting any part of this gig? Trump’s administration is a righteous mess right now, so it’s easy to see why someone would turn down the role. However, CBS News says there were issues other than the Trump taint that influenced Harward’s decision:
Sources close to the situation told Garrett Harward and the administration had a dispute over staffing the security council. Two sources close to the situation confirm Harward demanded his own team, and the White House resisted.
Specifically, Mr. Trump told Deputy National Security Adviser K. T. McFarland that she could retain her post, even after the ouster of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Harward refused to keep McFarland as his deputy, and after a day of negotiations over this and other staffing matters, Harward declined to serve as Flynn’s replacement.
So, it sounds like staffing matters were a big issue, but Harward exuded a more diplomatic vibe in a statement to the New York Times. “This job requires 24 hours a day, seven days a week focus and commitment to do it right,” he said. “I currently could not make that commitment.” This is a man who led troops after 9/11 in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Harward has held down some hardcore, demanding responsibilities, but this would be a whole other ball game. A fiasco, even. One might even call it a “shit sandwich.”
One can imagine that Trump was surprised hear the word “no,” but this probably barely registered in a day when he spent 75 minutes yelling at the press. What a day it has been in America, and the NY Times adds that Harward’s decision has spurred Gen. David H. Petraeus — who is still on probation for sharing classified info with biographer and partner Paula Broadwell — to increase his lobbying efforts for the job. Hoo boy.