As he seeks to get his struggling administration back on track, President Donald Trump is interviewing potential candidates this weekend to serve as his new national security adviser. Trump plans to interview John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster while in Florida for the weekend, according to a White House official. The official said both meetings will take place at Mar-a-Lago, the president’s private club in Palm Beach.
The official was not authorized to discuss the interview process publicly and insisted on anonymity.
Trump is working to replace ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn. Trump’s first choice – retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward – turned down the offer.
The president tweeted Saturday morning that he ”will be having many meetings this weekend at The Southern White House.” Trump is also planning a campaign rally Saturday afternoon, and he continued his Twitter attacks against the news media.
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Finding a new national security adviser has proved challenging for the president. He had also expressed interest in former CIA Director David Petraeus, but another White House official, who requested anonymity to discuss private talks, said Saturday Petraeus was not a finalist for the position.
Petraeus, a retired four-star general, resigned as CIA director in 2012 and pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information relating to documents he had provided to his biographer, with whom he was having an affair.
Flynn resigned at Trump’s request Monday after revelations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about discussing sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the transition. Trump said in a news conference Thursday that he was disappointed by how Flynn had treated Pence, but did not believe Flynn had done anything wrong by having the conversations.
Four weeks into his presidency, Trump has lurched from crisis to crisis, including the botched rollout of his immigration order, struggles confirming his Cabinet picks and a near-constant stream of reports about strife within his administration.
Trump, who defended himself at Thursday’s marathon news conference, continued his rants against the news media Saturday, tweeting: ”Don’t believe the main stream (fake news) media. The White House is running VERY WELL. I inherited a MESS and am in the process of fixing it.”
Trump will get in front of supporters Saturday afternoon with a rally at an airport hangar in central Florida.
For Trump, the rally offers an opportunity to recapture the energy of his upstart campaign and to connect with his supporters. Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump wants to ”speak directly to people across this county in an unfiltered way, in a way that doesn’t have any bias.”
Big rowdy rallies were the hallmark of Trump’s presidential campaign. He continued to do them, although with smaller crowds, throughout the early part of the transition, during what he called a ”thank you” tour.
The event Saturday is being put on by Trump’s campaign, rather than the White House. Asked if it was a rally for the 2020 election, Sanders called it ”a campaign rally for America.” Trump himself promoted his appearance on Twitter on Friday: ”Looking forward to the Florida rally tomorrow. Big crowd expected!”
During an appearance Friday at a Boeing plant in South Carolina, Trump slipped back into his campaign’s ”America First” message with ease.
”America is going to start winning again, winning like never ever before,” he said, as the company showed off its new 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft. ”We’re not going to let our country be taken advantage of anymore in any way, shape or form.”