President Trump weighs options for next national security adviser

PHOTO: Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with teachers, school administrators and parents in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Feb. 14, 2017.PlaySaul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
WATCH President Trump chooses new national security advisor

Less than a week after the dramatic resignation of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, President Trump is continuing to weigh his options for the crucial position of national security adviser.

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The president is wrapping up his extended weekend at Mar-a-Lago, Florida, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, where he held "in-depth" interviews Sunday with four candidates for the role: Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, acting national security adviser and retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, and Army Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen.

The list extends beyond these four and "a couple" other candidates could be considered by the president in the coming days, she added.

But McMaster and Caslen are the leading candidates, a senior administration official told ABC News today.

A senior administration official told ABC News Friday that other candidates for the position included retired Army Gen. Keith Alexander and retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, though Petraeus is no longer on the short list, according to a senior administration official.

The president's first choice for Flynn's replacement, retired Navy Vice Adm. Robert Harward, declined to accept the position. In an interview with ABC News, Harward disputed the notion he turned down the offer over reports of chaos in the West Wing or over worries that he wouldn't be able to pick his own staff.

"I was humbled and honored," Harward, an ABC News contributor, said.

But the job “takes 24 hours a day of focus ... It's a tough sacrifice," he said, adding that after 40 years of military service, he was unprepared to come out of retirement.

White House spokeswoman Sanders told reporters in Florida Sunday that whoever Trump picks "will have full authority" over his or her staff.

The current crop of candidates includes at least three top military figures aligned with Trump's previous picks for national security-related positions. Bolton, on the other hand, amounts to an outsider in the group, having gone from U.N. ambassador to a conservative political commentator who has drawn criticism from both Democrats and some Republicans.

He was previously considered a contender for Trump's secretary of state and deputy secretary of state positions.

Trump has said he hopes to name Flynn's replacement "soon," though spokeswoman Sanders stressed there is no concrete timeline for when the announcement could come.