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Trump steps up search for a national security adviser

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump on Sunday stepped up his search for a national security adviser, conducting interviews with several candidates, and held talks with aides on health care policy, while his team pushed back against depictions of a young administration in disarray.

His chief of staff used appearances on the Sunday news shows to echo Trump’s complaints about media coverage of the White House and cited what he said were multiple accomplishments in the first few weeks of the new presidency.


‘‘The truth is that we don’t have problems in the West Wing,’’ Reince Priebus told NBC’s ‘‘Meet the Press.’’ He also denied a report 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, Trump returned to Florida and his private club for a third straight weekend.

After a raucous campaign-style rally Saturday night, Trump and his wife, Melania, stopped by a fund-raiser at his private Palm Beach club, put on by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of Boston.

Trump is seeking a replacement for ousted Michael Flynn as national security adviser.

Scheduled to discuss the job with the president at Mar-a-Lago were John Bolton, a former US ambassador to the United Nations; Army Lieutenant General Robert Caslen, superintendent of West Point; retired Army Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg, an acting Trump adviser; and Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaste.


Trump pushed out Flynn last Monday after revelations he misled Vice President Mike Pence about having discussed sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the United States during the presidential transition.

Trump said Thursday that he was disappointed by how Flynn had treated Pence but did not believe Flynn had done anything wrong. Trump’s first choice to replace Flynn, a retired vice admiral, Robert Harward, turned down the offer.

Trump discussed health care 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 Obama’s 2010 law and replace it with conservative policies. It includes a revamped Medicaid program for the poor, tax breaks to help people pay doctors’ bills, and federally subsidized 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.

In a separate development, a Democrat on the Federal Election Commission said she will quit her term early because of the gridlock that has gripped the panel, offering Trump an unexpected chance to shape political spending rules.

Ann M. Ravel said she’ll send a letter of resignation this week. She pointed to a series of deadlocked votes between the panel’s three Democrats and three Republicans that she said left her little hope the group would ever be able to rein in campaign finance abuses.

“The ability of the commission to perform its role has deteriorated significantly,” Ravel told The New York Times.

Her departure could set off a fight over how a new commissioner should be picked. By tradition, Senate Democrats would be allowed to select the replacement, but by law the choice belongs to the president.

But the panel can’t have more than three members from any political party.

Ravel said she’s concerned that Trump might seek to name her replacement. “But I’m hoping that he will understand the need to appoint people who actually believe in the mission of the agency,” she told the Times.

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