MELBOURNE, Fla. >> President Donald Trump will interview four candidates on Sunday to replace his dismissed national security adviser, three of them military veterans, but one of the United States’ most prominent retired generals, whose name had been floated, is not in the running.
A White House spokesman said Saturday that Trump would speak with Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a prominent military strategist; Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; and Keith Kellogg, a retired lieutenant general already serving as acting national security adviser.
Trump, who is spending the weekend in Florida, will also interview John Bolton, who served as President George W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations and has previously been considered for deputy secretary of state.
The national security adviser is a crucial figure in any White House, but Trump has struggled to find the right person to fill the post. His first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, a retired lieutenant general, lasted only 24 days before Trump requested his resignation for misinforming Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of a conversation with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.
Bolton shares Trump’s strong antipathy toward the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by former President Barack Obama, and he would presumably continue the tough approach begun by Flynn of pressuring Tehran over its ballistic missile program and its sponsorship of terrorist groups. But Bolton has also taken a stronger position on Russia than Trump or Flynn.
McMaster, a highly decorated Army officer, is considered one of the military’s leading intellectuals. In 2012, he was the head of a task force fighting corruption in Afghanistan. He is now the director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center at Fort Eustis in Virginia.
Caslen, who was in the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and went back into the building after it was hit by a hijacked plane, served in key roles in Iraq and Afghanistan. A West Point graduate, he took command of the military academy in 2013.
Kellogg served for 36 years in the Army, including two tours in Vietnam, where he earned the Silver Star and other medals. He served as a foreign policy adviser to Trump during his campaign and was appointed chief of staff at the National Security Council after the election.