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Flynn Replacement Pick Dropped out over Trump’s Press Conference: Report

President Trump may need more time to replace Michael Flynn as National Security Director, since his intended replacement, Robert Harward, has turned down the offer to spend time with his family.

The Hill reports:

President Trump’s pick to replace former national security adviser Michael Flynn turned down the position Thursday partly because of Trump’s combative press conference that day, according to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.

Hayes reported Friday night disputed reports that retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward passed on the position because the Trump administration wouldn’t let him install his own staff.

Harward’s decision was because the White House would not meet his conditions, and Trump’s press conference sealed the deal, Hayes reported, citing a former national security official familiar with his decision.

Harward had reportedly wanted a clear chain of command and direct line to Trump in which he was the sole national security adviser. He also wanted the structure of the National Security Council to be restored to the model of past administrations so that political advisers, particularly controversial White House strategist Stephen Bannon, would not have a seat at the key Principals Committee.

MSNBC reported that Harward sent a letter to the White House on Thursday declining the offer. The White House then invited him to meet and asked him to reconsider, which he was open to. But after watching Trump’s Thursday press conference, Harward made a final decision.

Trump harshly denounced the media during Thursday’s press conference, defending Flynn and insisting his administration was a “fine-tuned machine.” He denounced reporters on an individual basis and called concerns about his campaign’s connections to Russia “a ruse.”

Financial Times reported earlier this week that Harward was concerned about whether the top advisers in Trump’s administration would allow him to install his own staff on the National Security Council. Flynn’s deputy, K.T. McFarland, told The Hill on Tuesday that Trump had “asked that I stay on.”

Harward also cited “financial and family issues that would have been challenging in this position” in explaining his decision to decline the offer.

“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,” Harward said in a statement reported by CNN’s Jake Tapper.

“My thoughts and prayers are with those that carry such heavy burdens and responsibility for taking care of our country’s national security concerns,” he added.

Photo credit: CNN/Screenshot.

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