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Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump's new national security adviser, John Bolton, was eager to find a face-saving way to remove Keith Kellogg from his senior role on the National Security Council, three sources with knowledge of the high-level internal conversations tell Axios.

Between the lines: When Vice President Mike Pence suggested the idea of taking on Kellogg — a man the president loves — as his national security adviser about a week ago, senior officials including Chief of Staff John Kelly and Bolton viewed it as a “win-win.”

How it happened: A White House official said selecting Kellogg was entirely Pence's idea, and Bolton was highly supportive. 

  • The source notes that Kellogg was in a support staff role before, and the change moves him into advisory role — which the source said he is perfectly suited for. 
  • Pence brought the idea to Trump on Monday, and the president loved it, so it was good for all involved. Kellogg was then offered the job and accepted. 

What we're hearing: Senior White House staff have told me they don’t know what Kellogg actually did during the day for the past 15 months he served as chief of staff and executive secretary of the NSC.

  • Officials who worked with Kellogg say former deputy executive secretary Megan Badasch did close to 100% of Kellogg’s functional executive secretary work when H.R. McMaster was national security adviser. They said Kellogg attended meetings but played no substantive role in shaping policy.

The other side: One source who worked closely with Kellogg said that while he did none of the executive secretary work, he served a useful function as a “political” voice in the room.

  • The source said Kellogg was often the only person in NSC meetings who would bring up Trump’s campaign promises and remind people of naked politics. This was sometimes uncomfortable in a room of people who largely liked to stay above politics, but it was an important role, the source said.
  • An NSC official who's worked with Kellogg early on also told Axios that the notion Kellogg didn't do any work is wrong given he empowered his staff to do their jobs and didn't micromanage them.
  • "He's been here since the beginning. He managed the transition from the campaign. He was a critical and crucial part of on-boarding all of the staff from January 2017," the official said. "... I think the fact that he's going to be national security adviser to the Vice President shows they value his sound and serious advice."

Statement from Vice President Mike Pence: "General Kellogg has served his country and President Trump with distinction ... Kellogg brings a wealth of experience in national security and foreign policy matters to this role and has already been an integral part of the President’s national security team."

Go deeper

Updated 21 mins ago - Health

2 federal judges temporarily block Biden vaccine mandates

President Biden delivers remarks on the Omicron COVID-19 variant at the White House on Nov. 29. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

The Biden administration was temporarily blocked from enforcing COVID-19 vaccine mandates for millions of workers by federal judges in two states on Tuesday.

The big picture: The orders, by federal judges in Kentucky and Louisiana, come one day after a federal judge in Missouri halted the mandate, which has a Jan. 4 deadline, in 10 states.

52 mins ago - World

Honduras elects first female president

Honduran President-elect Xiomara Castro, of the Libertad y Refundacion (Libre) Party, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on Sunday. Photo: Inti Ocon/Getty Images

Former Honduras first lady Xiomara Castro is set to become the country's first female president president, after the ruling party conceded defeat in the country's elections on Tuesday night, per AP.

Why it matters: The democratic socialist and her Libre Party have broken a 12-year run for the conservative National Party, which U.S. prosecutors alleged fostered a "narco-state," note Axios' Latinos' Marina E. Franco and Russell Contreras.

Food delivery "ghost kitchens" face major obstacles

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The growing popularity of food delivery has given rise to startups that open "ghost kitchens" — kitchens in warehouses or trailers that prepare food solely for delivery and have no option to dine in.

  • But they can come with a whole host of problems.

The big picture: The concept of "ghost kitchens" has been dubbed the next big thing in the future of services, with high profile backers like Uber founder Travis Kalanick. But these kitchens can be hard to run or unsafe.