White House acknowledges it probably won't meet self-imposed deadline to close Guantanamo Bay

The White House acknowledged Friday that it probably won't be able to meet its self-imposed deadline of closing the Guantanamo Bay prison in January.

FOX's Catherine Herridge has been reporting all week from Cuba where officials were telling her about mounting doubts on meeting the deadline.

Friday's admission was the first time the White House recognized a likely delay on-the-record.

A senior administration official tells FOX's Major Garrett that the schedule is slipping, but the White House hopes to regain momentum.

The reason for the delay is largely due to legislative difficulties and legal snares. There are issues over where inmates will go once eligible for release, new rules for military trials, and a location for a new prison.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell responded to the admission, saying the prison should continue to stay open for now: "Americans and a bipartisan majority in Congress will continue to reject any effort to close Guantanamo until there is a plan that keeps Americans as safe or safer than keeping detainees in the secure detention center."

The White House in recent months has also shuffled its staffing on who will head closing the facility. Pete Rouse now leads the West Wing staff on the issue with considerable counsel from Deputy National Security Council Advisor Tom Donilon and top White House terrorism Advisor John Brennan.

The key point person previously was White House Counsel Greg Craig.

President Obama initially signed an Executive Order last January which ordered to close the prison within a year.  He said shortly after taking office that closing the facility would help restore America's image in the world.

The prison was set-up by former President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks and holds about 225 prisoners.

UPDATE: In Monday's White House briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded to a reporter's question about Craig's role.  While Craig is not taking the lead on the issue, Gibbs says he is still involved.  Here's the exchange:

QUESTION:  Just real quick on the closing of Guantanamo, has Greg Craig been stripped of his responsibilities?

GIBBS:  No.  Greg was in the Oval Office today talking to the president about...


GIBBS:  There are a number of people that are working on it, Greg being one of them, and talked to the president about Guantanamo earlier today.

The Associate Press, FOX's Catherine Herridge, Major Garrett, and Mike Levine also contributed to this report.