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White House won’t rule out Pompeo as Trump’s national security adviser choice

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Thursday wouldn’t rule out the possibility that President Trump could choose Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to replace John Bolton as his national security adviser.

Conway told reporters that Pompeo is not among the five candidates cited by Trump in the Oval Office on Wednesday, but said “it’s probably five plus candidates” with Pompeo. She also praised Pompeo’s work as the nation’s chief diplomat and described him as having “the president’s ear and the president’s trust.”

“That would not be an unprecedented thing,” Conway said when asked about Pompeo being a potential choice. She pointed to Henry Kissinger, who served as secretary of State and national security adviser under former Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

“I think he has many great options,” Conway said, referring to the president.

When asked to clarify that she wasn’t ruling out Pompeo’s selection, Conway replied: “Well I think I don’t rule much out for President Trump.”

“He’s an excellent secretary of State,” she said of Pompeo. “He has the president’s ear and the president’s trust.”

Trump abruptly ousted Bolton on Tuesday, tweeting that he had told the top national security aide that he informed him the day prior that his services were “no longer needed at the White House.”

Their professional relationship ended turbulently, as Bolton disputed Trump’s account of the events on Twitter, claiming he had offered to resign. Trump tore into Bolton during an Oval Office meeting on Wednesday, accusing him of causing setbacks on North Korea and making “some very bad mistakes.”

Pompeo’s influence with Trump, meanwhile, has steadily grown over his tenure in the administration and solidified with the ouster of Bolton, with whom he had disagreements. His name has been floated in the press as a potential replacement for Bolton, along with others.

Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he had “five people” who want the national security adviser role “very badly” and repeated that he planned to make an announcement next week.

“There are five people that I consider very highly qualified. Good people I’ve gotten to know over the last three years,” Trump told reporters.

Conway stressed during an interview on Fox News earlier Thursday that Trump “wishes John Bolton well and I’d like to echo that sentiment,” but said ultimately that Trump should have the team he wants around him.

“I believe Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is doing an excellent job over at State and that he will, of course, have input” into the national security adviser choice, Conway said.

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