February 17, 2017
Harward had been widely reported as the favorite to replace former general Michael Flynn, who resigned after misleading Vice President Pence about the nature of his conversations with the Russian ambassador.
Trump asked the retired Navy SEAL, 60, to take the position, but he turned it down over concerns that he would not have full say over the composition of his staff, CBS and The Financial Times reported, citing unnamed sources.
Assuming the report is correct, and there’s yet no reason to doubt it, it looks like Trump went with the safe choice, expecting Harward to sail through. But to make sure that the establishment-friendly pick wouldn’t stray too far from Trump, Trump wanted to control Harward’s N.S.A. staffing. And that of course was unacceptable to a retired SEAL, and the deal fell apart.
Appointments get scuttled in ways like this frequently, but you’re supposed to have these details worked out before going public.
An unforced and embarrassing error for President Trump.