President Trump's first choice to succeed the departed Michael Flynn as national security adviser has turned the job down due to family reasons, sources close to the situation told Fox News late Thursday.
One source told Fox that retired Navy Vice Admiral Robert Harward "really wanted" to do the job, but ultimately decided that he could not.
A senior administration official said that Harward's acceptance of the national security adviser post was contingent on the agreement of his family. The official said Harward's wife and other family members wanted him to remain in the private sector.
Harward retired from the Navy in 2013 after a career spanning nearly 40 years. Upon his retirement, he became chief executive officer for defense and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin in the United Arab Emirates.
Harward told The Associated Press that the Trump administration was "very accommodating to my needs, both professionally and personally."
"It's purely a personal issue," Harward said Thursday evening. "I'm in a unique position finally after being the in military for 40 years to enjoy some personal time."
Asked whether he had requested to bring in his own staff at the National Security Council, Harward said, "I think that's for the president to address."
There was no official comment from the White House. Harward had been due to meet with Trump Thursday night.
At a news conference earlier Thursday, the president said he had "somebody that I think will be outstanding for the position" of national security adviser, but did not mention any names.
A former Navy SEAL, Harward served as deputy commander of the United States Central Command under Gen. James Mattis, who is now defense secretary. He quickly emerged as the favorite to replace Flynn after the latter resigned Monday night, ending days of speculation about his fate following reports that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his discussions with Russia prior to Trump's Jan. 20 inauguration.
After Flynn stepped down, Trump named retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg as the acting national security adviser. Kellogg and former CIA Director David Petraeus were the two other candidates rumored to be under consideration.
Petraeus, a retired four-star general, resigned as CIA director in 2012 and pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information relating to documents he had provided to his biographer, with whom he was having an affair.
He was also fined $100,000 and remains on probation.
Fox News' Serafin Gomez and the Associated Press contributed to this report.