Trump interviews candidates for national security adviser

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HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: The White House is also drafting a new immigration executive order to replace the one blocked by courts that banned immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. According to drafts seen by the “Wall Street Journal,” the new streamlined order may ban immigration from the same seven predominantly Muslim countries, exempt green card holders, permanent legal residents, and lift a ban on Syrian refugees but limit their numbers. According to “The Journal” and “The Washington Post,” the administration is also considering ways to expedite deportation proceedings of undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America and prosecute parents who helped their children illegally enter the U.S.

For more analysis, I’m joined by Skype from West Palm Beach, Florida, by “Reuters” reporter Jeff Mason, who is also the president of the White House Correspondents Association.

Jeff, what do we know about the decision-making process to fill Mike Flynn’s job?

JEFF MASON, REUTERS: Well, we know that President Trump was planning to interview four candidates today here in Florida. And he said to reporters on Air Force One last night, as we were traveling to his rally in Melbourne, Florida, that he intended to make his decision in the next couple of days. So, it’s clearly at the top of his to-do list and something that he is planning to execute very soon.

SREENIVASAN: On his short list are multiple military leaders. Is there a reason for this focus?

MASON: Well, he seems to have a comfort level with military leaders in this type of a role. He also chose military leaders for some of his top cabinet positions. Obviously, they are leaders who have background in national security and that’s something that he seems to be very comfortable with. And in fact, he said last night on the plane that he was leaning — of the four candidates that he’s looking, he was leaning towards somebody who was similar, and then he stopped himself. And I assume that when he started to say that he meant similar to his previous national security advisor who also had a military background.

SREENIVASAN: OK. And also on that list was John Bolton, but he has very different views on foreign policy that perhaps the president does.

MASON: Yes, indeed, he’s the one who does not have a military background. He also has a bit of a controversial history. He did serve in the Bush administration and was an advocate for the war against Iraq and also suggested that Iraq had biological and chemical weapons which, of course, turned out not to be true.

Trump has been very critical of that war and so, that maybe something that’s sort of a thumbs down for Bolton. But he clearly he is in the list and he White House has said that he’s one of the people that the president is considering.

SREENIVASAN: The administration has also said that they are expecting a revised version of the travel ban to happen sometime this week. Any idea how it’s going to be pared down?

MASON: That’s right. We don’t have a whole lot of details about what is going to be into that plan. Clearly, they want to avoid the legal challenges that the last executive order led to. We have seen a few details such as that this new one will probably not affect green card holders. But otherwise, we are still waiting for a lot of details.

The president is committed though to giving had a second try and to do so in a way that does not generate the legal problems that the last one did.

SREENIVASAN:
All right. Jeff Mason from “Reuters” joining us from Florida today via Skype — thanks so much.

MASON: My pleasure.

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