President Trump entered his subsequent part of vetting for a brand new nationwide safety adviser, interviewing his prime hostage negotiator Robert C. O’Brien on the White Home on Friday and brushing by a rising record of candidates with diplomatic, army and enterprise expertise.
The ouster of his hawkish nationwide safety adviser, John Bolton, has set off a turbulent contest among the many Republican Occasion’s hawks and doves to put in an adviser who will assist information the president as he seeks to dealer a landmark nuclear cope with North Korea, a withdrawal from Afghanistan and an easing of tensions with Iran.
The president’s most trusted international coverage adviser, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is quietly supporting three of his shut colleagues, in response to U.S. officers and congressional aides accustomed to the matter. These candidates embody O’Brien; Brian Hook, particular envoy for Iran; and Ricky Waddell, assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Workers.
Vice President Pence’s nationwide safety adviser, Keith Kellogg, and the president’s ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, are additionally into account for the place, the officers mentioned, talking on the situation of anonymity to debate personnel selections.
Every candidate is coming below scrutiny from influential advisers who’ve a stake in who turns into the following coordinator of America’s huge international coverage equipment.
Within the deliberations, U.S. officers have questioned the loyalty of Hook, who entered the State Division below former secretary of state Rex Tillerson and has come below assault by Fox Information host Tucker Carlson, who has known as him an “unapologetic neocon” with an “undisguised contempt for Donald Trump.” These criticisms have been blunted by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has labored with Hook on Center East points and spoke up for him throughout a latest assembly with Trump, mentioned a senior U.S. official who spoke on the situation of anonymity.
Hook declined to remark.
O’Brien, a founding accomplice of a Los Angeles legislation agency, served in earlier U.S. authorities roles specializing in Afghanistan and the Center East. Officers view him as a “protected selection” given his sturdy rapport with colleagues on the State Division and Pentagon. His “affable demeanor” contrasts with Bolton, who was generally known as a ruthless bureaucratic infighter, the official mentioned. “There’s a want within the White Home to have a workforce participant.”
O’Brien has praised Trump for having “unparalleled success” in bringing residence hostages, although his look in Stockholm in July to observe the trial of U.S. rapper A$AP Rocky drew guffaws as critics assailed Trump for what they considered as an inappropriate intervention in an allied nation’s authorized issues.
O’Brien declined to remark.
Grenell is anticipated to fulfill with the president to debate the place on Saturday. Like O’Brien, he beforehand labored with Bolton. Grenell has clashed with Pompeo and different State Division officers in his function as prime diplomat to Berlin, the place he has interpreted the function broadly and never all the time coordinated with different U.S. ambassadors in Europe, officers mentioned.
Grenell didn’t reply to requests for remark.
Trump’s prime negotiator for North Korea, Steve Biegun, has additionally been shortlisted for the nationwide safety adviser place, however officers have mentioned he might vie for the deputy secretary of state place, which might put him ready to turn out to be the highest U.S. diplomat if Pompeo decides to run for Senate in Kansas.
As Trump weighs the important personnel choice, his expressed want to withdraw from Afghanistan and de-escalate with Iran have unnerved the neoconservative wing of the Republican Occasion and prompted feuds with different conservatives who favor a extra restrained international coverage.
On Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming launched right into a multiday Twitter feud indicative of the 2 poles of Republican international coverage.
“Few individuals have been as mistaken on international coverage over the previous few years because the neocons and @Liz_Cheney,” tweeted Paul. “Whereas they could exist, I certain haven’t heard of a conflict that Liz _Cheney didn’t need us to become involved in. When @realdonaldtrump needed to finish the conflict in Syria — you guessed it, #NeverTrumper Liz Cheney got here out in opposition to the president.”
Cheney known as the change “enlightening” and tried to assert the pro-Trump banner for herself.
“There are some points on the coronary heart of that disagreement,” she mentioned throughout a information convention on the Home GOP’s annual retreat on Friday. “There are points surrounding whether or not you set America first, as Trump does, or if you happen to blame America first, as Rand Paul does and has for years.”
The battle isn’t purely educational, analysts mentioned, because the president seeks to transition from a international coverage of most strain in opposition to North Korea and Iran, to one among dealmaking and diplomacy.
“We’re getting into into a brand new part,” Tom Wright, a senior fellow on the Brookings Establishment, wrote within the Atlantic. “Trump has all the time had two photographs of himself on national-security points — as a militarist and as a dealmaker. As he nears the election, he hopes to maneuver from the previous to the latter.”
On Thursday, Trump shot down the concept of tapping Pompeo to serve concurrently as nationwide safety adviser and secretary of state. He additionally mentioned many potential candidates have expressed curiosity within the place.
“All people desires it badly, as you may think about,” he mentioned, regardless of his administration’s traditionally excessive job turnover fee. “Lots of people need the job — it’s a fantastic job. It’s nice as a result of it’s a number of enjoyable to work with Donald Trump. It’s very straightforward truly to work with me. You realize why it’s straightforward? As a result of I make all the choices. They don’t should work.”
Anne Gearan, Josh Dawsey, Missy Ryan and Greg Jaffe contributed to this report.