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Sunday 22 October 2017

Donald Trump steps up search for new national security adviser

High on Donald Trump's to-do list is finding a replacement for ousted Michael Flynn as national security adviser (AP)
High on Donald Trump's to-do list is finding a replacement for ousted Michael Flynn as national security adviser (AP)

President Donald Trump has been stepping up his search for a national security adviser as well as focusing on healthcare in talks with his health and budget chiefs.

Reince Priebus, Mr Trump's chief of staff, used appearances on Sunday news shows to echo the president's complaints about media coverage of the White House, citing what he said were multiple accomplishments in the first few weeks of the administration.

"The truth is that we don't have problems in the West Wing," Mr Priebus told NBC's Meet the Press.

He also denied a report that Trump advisers were in touch with Russian intelligence advisers during the 2016 campaign and said he had assurances from "the top levels of the intelligence community" that it was false.

After weeks of tumult in Washington, Mr Trump returned to Florida and his private club for a third straight weekend as he tries to refocus.

After a raucous campaign rally on Saturday night, Mr Trump and his wife Melania stopped by a fundraiser at his private Palm Beach club, put on by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

High on Mr Trump's to-do list is finding a replacement for ousted Michael Flynn as national security adviser.

Scheduled to discuss the job with the president at Mar-a-Lago were his acting adviser, retired Army Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg; John Bolton, a former US ambassador to the United Nations; Army Lieutenant General HR McMaster and Lieutenant General Robert Caslen, superintendent of the US Military Academy at West Point.

Mr Trump pushed out Mr Flynn last Monday after revelations he misled Vice President Mike Pence about discussing sanctions with Russia's ambassador to the US during the presidential transition.

Mr Trump said in a news conference on Thursday that he was disappointed by how Mr Flynn had treated Mr Pence, but did not believe Mr Flynn had done anything wrong by having the conversations.

Retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward, Mr Trump's first choice to replace Mr Flynn, turned down the offer.

Mr Trump was also expected to discuss healthcare policy in a meeting with Health Secretary Tom Price and Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House budget office.

Top House Republicans last week presented a rough sketch of a health overhaul to rank-and-file lawmakers that would void President Barack Obama's 2010 law and replace it with conservative policies.

It features a revamped Medicaid program for the poor, tax breaks to help people pay doctors' bills and federally-subsidised state pools to assist those with costly medical conditions in buying insurance.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has said Republicans would introduce legislation repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act after Congress returns in late February, but he offered no specifics.

Mr Trump has lurched from crisis to crisis since the inauguration, including the botched roll-out of his immigration order, struggles confirming his Cabinet picks and a near-constant stream of reports about strife within his administration.

Mr Priebus said: "The fact of the matter is the level of accomplishment that he's put forward so far in the first 30 days has been remarkable."

AP

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