Retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward, Donald Trump's choice for national security adviser, has turned the president down, the latest blow to a new administration struggling to find its footing.
Mr Harward was offered the job after Michael Flynn resigned on Monday for misleading Vice President Mike Pence over his conversations with Russia's ambassador to the United States.
The former Navy Seal told The Associated Press the Trump administration was "very accommodating to my needs, both professionally and personally."
"It's purely a personal issue," Mr Harward said on Thursday evening. "I'm in a unique position finally after being in the military for 40 years to enjoy some personal time."
Two sources familiar with the decision told Reuters that Mr Harward turned down the job in part because he wanted to bring in his own team.
Asked whether he had requested to bring in his own staff at the National Security Council, Mr Harward said: "I think that's for the president to address."
Following Mr Flynn's ousting, administration officials said his deputy, KT McFarland, was staying on at the NSC. Mr McFarland is a former Fox News analyst.
The news was first reported by the Financial Times. "Harward is conflicted between the call of duty and the obvious dysfunctionality,” one source told the newspaper. The second person reportedly said Mr Trump had asked Mr Harward to return to the White House for another meeting to try to change his mind.
The White House official said Mr Harward cited family and financial reasons for opting not to take the job. Mr Harward is a senior executive at Lockheed Martin.
When asked about Mr Flynn at the press conference on Thursday, Mr Trump said: "I have somebody that I think will be outstanding for the position."
He also forcefully defended Mr Flynn's discussion with the Russian ambassador. "What he did wasn't wrong," Mt Trump told the news conference.
"Mike was doing his job. He was calling countries and his counterparts. So, it certainly would have been OK with me if he did it. ... I didn't direct him, but I would have directed him because that's his job," Trump said.
"No, I didn't direct him, but I would have directed him if he didn't do it. OK?" said Mr Trump, who added the problem was Mr Flynn's having misled Mr Pence.
Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the House, said: "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."
Mr Harward, 60, has a long and distinguished military career. He retired in 2013 to take up a private sector role in the Gulf, as chief executive officer for defence contractor Lockheed Martin United Arab Emirates.
He was reportedly being lined up to take over after the disastrous 24-day tenure of Mr Flynn, who resigned on Monday following revelations about his repeated contact with a Russian official.
Mr Flynn’s predecessor, Susan Rice, served Barack Obama for 1,299 days.
Born in Rhode Island, the son of a navy officer, Mr Harward spent much of his teenage years in Iran. He graduated from Tehran American High School in 1974, and speaks Farsi.
Following in his father’s footsteps, he enlisted in the navy and became a Seal, serving his country around the world and rising to become vice admiral, as well as eventually working in Washington DC.
With a master’s degree in international relations and strategic security affairs, he served as a federal executive fellow at the Rand Corp and completed the Centre for International Studies’ foreign policy programme at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to his official navy biography.
Following the September 11 attacks, he led troops in Afghanistan and Iraq for six years, before being appointed as the deputy commander of US Joint Forces Command.
Mr Harward also served from 2011 until his 2013 retirement as deputy commander of the US Central Command (Centcom), based in the city of Tampa, in Florida.
In Washington Mr Harward served on the National Security Council as the director of strategy and policy for the office of combating terrorism.
Mr Harward is known to be close to James Mattis, the current defence secretary. Mr Harward was Mr Mattis’s deputy at the US Joint Forces Command, and also his deputy at Centcom.
When Mr Harward retired in 2013, he decided to arrive at his ceremony in Coronado, California jumping out of a plane and parachuting in to land on the beach. Adm. William McRaven, then-commander of US Special Operations Command, spoke at the event - as did Mr Mattis, then-commander of Centcom.
He also has the support of Obama administration officials.
On Monday night Tommy Vietor, a former spokesman for Mr Obama's National Security Council, wrote on Twitter that Mr Harward is a "very impressive (and nice) guy."
Vice Adm Harward is a very impressive (and nice) guy. https://t.co/JYG9gzd1jr— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) February 14, 2017