New blow for Trump as Harward refuses national security adviser job

Robert Harward has turned down an offer to be President Donald Trump's new national security adviser, the latest blow to the new administration.

The retired vice admiral told The Associated Press that the Trump administration was "very accommodating to my needs, both professionally and personally".

He said: "It's purely a personal issue. I'm in a unique position finally after being in the military for 40 years to enjoy some personal time."

But asked whether he had requested to bring in his own staff at the National Security Council, Mr Harward said: "I think that's for the president to address."

He would have replaced Michael Flynn, who resigned at Mr Trump's request on Monday after revelations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about discussing sanctions with Russia's ambassador to the US during the transition.

Mr Trump said in a news conference on Thursday that he was disappointed by how the retired general had treated Mr Pence, but did not believe Mr Flynn had done anything wrong by having the conversations.

Robert Harward.

Mr Harward, a former Navy SEAL, served as deputy commander of US Central Command under James Mattis, who is now defence secretary.

Mr Harward served on the National Security Council under President George W Bush and commissioned the National Counter Terrorism Centre.

He retired in 2013 after a nearly 40-year career in the Navy, and became chief executive officer for defence and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin in the United Arab Emirates.

Mr Trump has recently been in very public negotiations with Lockheed over the cost of its F-35 fighter jet.

Officials said earlier this week there were two other contenders in the running for the job, acting national security adviser Keith Kellogg and David Petraeus.

Mr Petraeus, a retired general, resigned as CIA director in 2012 and pleaded guilty to a charge of mishandling classified information relating to documents he had provided to his biographer, with whom he was having an affair.

He was also fined $100,000 and remains on probation.

Mr Trump used his press conference to mount a vigorous defence of his presidency and accused America's news media of being "out of control".

He vowed to bypass the media and take his message "straight to the people".

The president said: "The press - the public doesn't believe you people any more. Now, maybe I had something to do with that. I don't know. But they don't believe you.

"But you've got to be at least a little bit fair, and that's why the public sees it. They see it. They see it's not fair. You take a look at some of your shows and you see the bias and the hatred."

Nearly a month into his presidency, Mr Trump said his new administration had made "significant progress" and took credit for an optimistic business climate and a rising stock market.

He pushed back against widespread reports of a chaotic start to his administration marked by a contentious executive order - now tied up in a legal fight - to place a ban on travellers from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

"This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine," Mr Trump declared.

The president said that he would announce a "new and very comprehensive order to protect our people".


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