Retired admiral and former Navy SEAL Robert Harward was offered the job of national security adviser to President Donald Trump, but has turned down the position for personal reasons, a senior administration official tells ABC News.
Harward, 60, had been the leading candidate to replace Gen. Michael Flynn, who was fired Monday, sources said. Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence about whether he discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador ahead of the inauguration.
Harward most recently served as the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command under Gen. James Mattis, now the Secretary of Defense, a relationship which was seen as a strong selling point, administration officials said.
Harward, an ABC News contributor, and Trump had spoken recently about a position in the administration, according to the officials.
But after weighing the opportunity of national security adviser, Harward cited his family in declining the job, the senior administration official said.
"I was humbled and honored," Harward told ABC News, but said of the job, "It takes 24 hours a day of focus... It's a tough sacrifice" and after 40 years of military service, he was not ready to come back from retirement.
Harward denied turning down the offer because of chaos in the West Wing.
Other names have been under consideration as possible replacement for Flynn, according to administration officials: retired Gen. David Petraeus, former Ambassador Bob Kimmitt, and retired Gen. Keith Kellogg -- who is currently serving as the acting NSA -- have all been in the mix.
"I have somebody that I think will be outstanding for the position," President Trump said Thursday at a White House press conference.
Thursday evening, reaction to Harward's decision was already coming in.
"Robert Harward’s decision to not take over General Flynn’s old job is the latest evidence that the Trump WH is falling into utter disarray," House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted.
Robert Harward’s decision to not take over General Flynn’s old job is the latest evidence that the Trump WH is falling into utter disarray.— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) February 16, 2017
ABC News’ Elizabeth McLaughlin contributed to this report.