President Trump has narrowed his list of candidates to replace John Bolton as national security adviser to five names, he said Tuesday. The list includes current and former members of his administration, but no household names.

As he flew to California for a political fundraising swing, Trump told reporters his short list:

● U.S. hostage negotiator Robert O’Brien

● Army Maj. Gen. Ricky Waddell, the assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who also has served as deputy national security adviser;

● Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, Energy Department undersecretary for nuclear security;

● Former Bolton chief of staff Fred Fleitz

● Retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who serves as the national security adviser to Vice President Pence


Trump praised O’Brien, with whom he has worked to try to free Americans held overseas.


“I think he’s fantastic,” Trump said. Waddell, he noted, “I like a lot.”

He also mentioned the 75-year-old Kellogg, who officials have suggested is a long shot.

“I love Keith Kellogg. Keith Kellogg, he’s been with me from the beginning. He’s great.”

Trump’s list does not include two names that current and former Trump administration officials had previously said were in circulation: Iran policy chief Brian Hook and Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell.

Later Tuesday, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement suggesting the president is not limiting his consideration to the names he provided.


“As the president said when speaking to the pool, the names of candidates mentioned for the NSA position was not the full list, and there are others being considered,” she said.

Bolton left last week after differing with Trump on several policy matters, including the president’s efforts to draw Iran into new negotiations. Bolton said he quit; Trump said he was fired.


Trump had said he expected to name a replacement for Bolton this week, but two officials said the selection process has been complicated by the weekend attack on Saudi oil facilities, possibly delaying an announcement.

Trump has said it appears likely that Iran is behind the attacks but that he will await more information.


Hook, a favorite of Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, is deeply involved in formulating a U.S. response and laying out options for Trump. The former Mitt Romney adviser has also come under criticism by some Trump loyalists for perceived sympathies with establishment “Never Trump” Republicans who opposed Trump’s outsider candidacy.

Grenell attended a dinner with Trump on Saturday amid speculation that he was in the running for Bolton’s job. A senior administration official said, however, that Grenell was in Washington because he “has been in discussions for weeks about another role the president wants him to play.”


Administration officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the selection process on the record.


The candidates Trump listed are all seasoned national security professionals with much lower profiles than the combative and media-savvy Bolton. That is by design, administration officials said, and is likely to solidify Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s role as the most influential Trump adviser. Pompeo and Bolton clashed frequently.

Trump’s choice is also expected to preside over a further trimming of National Security Council staff.