On Sunday President Donald Trump plans to interview four candidates to replace ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn: acting adviser Keith Kellogg, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, and Lieutenant General Robert Caslen, White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
The president said that he expects to make a decision in the “next couple of days.”
Ambassador John Bolton has emerged as the favorite among senior White House officials and members of the National Security Council, according to The Washington Free Beacon:
Among Bolton’s most vocal supporters are senior administration officials loyal to Flynn and who are upset at the general’s firing. Multiple sources described an effort by these Flynn loyalists to ensure that Bolton is selected as his replacement.
The selection of Bolton as the next national security adviser would empower Flynn’s allies still in the White House and send a message that his national security vision is represented within the Trump administration. Bolton is also favored by White House staffers who are opposed to the selection of any candidate who criticized President Trump during the 2016 campaign.
President Donald Trump has not settled on a final selection yet and is also eyeing retired Army Gen. Keith Kellogg, who has been acting national security adviser since Flynn’s departure, as well as other candidates.
“There’s a strong inclination in the NSC towards the kind of experienced leadership Bolton would represent,” said one current official, who requested anonymity to speak freely about the situation. “He knows the ins and outs of D.C. but he’s not an establishment, Never Trump type. There’s also a lot of respect for General Kellogg and KT McFarland, both of whom have really stepped up under challenging circumstances.”
Bolton, a veteran of the George W. Bush administration, is seen to have the experience necessary to give the White House credibility at a time when the administration is facing intense criticism from the media and subversion from Obama holdovers in the State Department.
“The one thing that makes Bolton more qualified than anyone else for the Trump era is that he has a veteran genius-level understanding of the organizational structure of our nation’s diplomatic and intelligence apparatus,” a veteran foreign policy insider told the Free Beacon.
According to multiple sources, Bolton would be able to “help root out Obama administration holdovers still working in the government.
A source close to the NSC and the White House told PJ Media:
Historically, the most successful national security advisers have been those with a fearless vision in tune with the presidents they serve. More often than not, the successful ones aren’t military leaders, despite their remarkable and honorable service to America.
In his press conference last week — and, indeed, on the campaign trail — President Trump used the words “Peace Through Strength” to describe his vision. There is no better proponent of that vision than John Bolton.
Bolton would be a national security adviser in the mold of Judge Bill Clark, who convinced President Reagan the Soviet Union was ripe for collapse, and helped the president implement policies that would succeed in doing just that. Bill Clark said famously “let Reagan be Reagan.” Appointing Bolton to NSA would “let Trump be Trump,” and keep him from being undermined from within.
“General Keith Kellogg, who I have known for a long time, is very much in play for NSA – as are three others,” President Trump said on Twitter Friday.
He told reporters on Air Force One that he was leaning toward one of the candidates he was interviewing on Sunday, but he didn’t say who.
Trump may be holding his cards close to his chest, but clearly, the choice among many in his administration is John “The Mustache” Bolton.