President Donald Trump on Tuesday revealed his top five candidates to replace former national security adviser John Bolton.
Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One while en route to California, Trump said he is considering Fred Fleitz, Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, Keith Kellogg, Robert O’Brien and Ricky Waddell to lead his National Security Council.
Fleitz is a former CIA analyst who served as Bolton’s chief of staff.
Gordon-Hagerty is the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Department of Energy agency responsible for building and maintaining the nation’s nuclear weapons.
Kellogg is the national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence and a retired Army lieutenant general. “I love Keith Kellogg,” Trump told reporters, adding that Kellogg has “been with me from the beginning” and is great.
O’Brien is an aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who deals with hostage issues. “I think he’s fantastic,” Trump said.
Waddell — who Trump said, “I like a lot” — is assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and an Army Reserve major general. He previously served as a deputy national security adviser under Bolton’s predecessor, H.R. McMaster.
Trump claimed last Thursday he was mulling 15 contenders to take over Bolton’s job and said he would likely decide sometime this week.
“Everybody wants it badly, as you can imagine,” he said last week. “A lot of people want the job — it’s a great job. It’s great because it’s a lot of fun to work with Donald Trump. It’s very easy actually to work with me. You know why it’s easy? Because I make all the decisions. They don’t have to work.”
Trump also ruled out appointing Pompeo to take over the post in addition to his duties at the State Department, though White House counselor Kellyanne Conway signaled he will play an outsize role assisting the president in the selection of the administration’s fourth national security adviser.
Trump announced Bolton’s resignation via Twitter last Tuesday after news reports indicated the president and his hawkish aide had clashed over scuttled plans for a Camp David summit with Taliban leaders aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan.
By QUINT FORGEY
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