Trump to interview four candidates for national security job Sunday

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Feb 18 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Sunday will interview acting national security adviser Keith Kellogg and three other candidates to fill the vacancy left by the firing of Michael Flynn, the White House said on Saturday.

Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster and Lieutenant General Robert Caslen are also being interviewed for the top national security position, White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

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Cabinet nominee withdrawals through the years

Judd Gregg, nominated by President Obama

Nominated by President Obama in 2009, Gregg withdrew his name for consideration over disagreement in economic ideology with the president.

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Zoe Baird, nominated by President Clinton

Nominated by President Clinton, Baird withdrew her name from consideration when the “Nannygate” scandal erupted over her hiring undocumented workers.

(Photo by Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Linda Chavez, nominated by President George W. Bush

Nominated by President George W. Bush, Chavez withdrew from consideration in 2001 when allegations were published over her employing an undocumented immigrant more than 10 years prior.

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Bill Richardson, nominated by President Obama

President Obama chose former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson as his first secretary of commerce pick in 2008. He then withdrew his name, though, because of a federal grand jury investigation into allegations of pay-to-play activities.

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Tom Daschle, nominated by President Obama

The former Senate majority leader was appointed by President Obama to serve as secretary of Health and Human Services, but Daschle withdrew when reports of his over $140,000 in unpaid taxes surfaced.

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Bernard Kerik, nominated by President George W. Bush

Kerik was the 43rd president's 2004 pick for secretary of homeland security. Kerik withdrew his nomination after acknowledging that he unknowingly hired an undocumented worker as a nanny.

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Kimba Wood, nominated by President Clinton

Wood was President Clinton's second choice for Attorney General. She also hired an undocumented worker, though, and later withdrew her consideration.

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Bobby Ray Inman, nominated by President Clinton

Inman was selected as Clinton's pick for secretary of defense in 1993. He withdrew his nomination when he accused a New York Times columnist of recruiting Senator Bob Dole to attack him -- something Dole denied.

(Photo by Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images)

Anthony Lake, nominated by President Clinton

President Clinton nominated Anthony Lake to become Director of Central Intelligence in 1996. He withdrew in March of 1997 after contentious questioning by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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Trump, who has been searching for a new national security adviser for about a week, could add a couple more candidates to the list, Spicer said.

Retired general and former CIA chief David Petraeus is no longer a candidate, Spicer said.

The retired four-star general, who resigned as head of the CIA in 2012 after it was revealed he was having an affair with his biographer, had been on a short list for the job after Flynn was let go.

Spicer said Trump's finalists include Kellogg, Bolton, Caslen, who is the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and McMaster, who holds a senior post with the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

Former U.S. National Security Agency head Keith Alexander, and former Army chief of staff Ray Odierno were also thought to be in contention for the job.

Flynn, who was Trump's first national security adviser, stepped down after revelations that he had discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump took office and misled Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.

Finding a replacement has been a challenge for Trump. Retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward, the president's first choice to take over for Flynn, turned down the offer, citing family and financial reasons.

A source familiar with the matter said Petraeus, like Harward, wanted control over staffing decisions within the NSC, and Trump was reluctant to grant that authority.

Trump is spending the weekend at his properties in Florida.

"Will be having many meetings this weekend at The Southern White House," he wrote in a tweet on Saturday morning.

The president spent the morning at the Trump International Golf Club before returning to his Mar-a-Lago resort. A White House official said he would be having meetings and might play golf.

The rocky start for the NSC under Trump has had an impact in other areas.

The White House dismissed Craig Deare, the NSC's senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs, after receiving reports that he had criticized the president and top aides, Politico reported. An NSC spokesman declined to comment. (Additional reporting by Steve Holland and John Walcott in Washington; Editing by Paul Simao)


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