Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Nation & World

Trump names hostage envoy Robert O’Brien national security adviser

The announcement of O’Brien’s selection comes a week after Trump ousted John Bolton from the post, citing policy disagreements
FILE - In this July 30, 2019, file photo, Robert O'Brien, U.S. Special Envoy Ambassador, arrives at the district court where U.S. rapper A$AP Rocky is to appear on charges of assault, in Stockholm, Sweden. President Donald Trump says he plans to name O'Brien to be his new national security adviser. [ERIK SIMANDER | AP]
Published Sep. 18

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday named Robert O’Brien, his chief hostage negotiator and an established figure in Republican policy circles, as his new national security adviser.

O'Brien, the fourth person in two years to hold the job, becomes the administration's point person on national security amid rising tensions with Iran following the weekend attack on Saudi oil installations and fresh uncertainty in Afghanistan after the halt in peace talks with the Taliban.

The announcement of O’Brien’s selection comes a week after Trump ousted John Bolton from the post, citing policy disagreements. O’Brien, who made headlines in July when he was dispatched to Sweden to monitor the assault trial of American rapper A$AP Rocky, was among five candidates Trump said Tuesday were under consideration.

"I am pleased to announce that I will name Robert C. O'Brien, currently serving as the very successful Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department, as our new National Security Advisor," Trump tweeted. "I have worked long & hard with Robert. He will do a great job!"

Trump abruptly forced out Bolton on Sept. 10, after he and his hawkish national security adviser found themselves in strong disagreement over the administration's approach to Iran, Afghanistan and a host of other global challenges. The sudden exit marked the latest departure of a prominent voice of dissent from Trump's inner circle as the president has grown more comfortable following his gut instinct over the studious guidance offered by his advisers.

As the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs at the State Department, O’Brien worked closely with the families of American hostages and advised administration officials on hostage issues. He helped secure the release in February of American citizen Danny Burch, who was freed after 18 months in captivity.

FILE - In this March 6, 2019, file photo, former U.S. hostage in Yemen, Danny Burch, left, listens as President Donald Trump speaks, Wednesday, March 6, 2019, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, next to Vice President Mike Pence, and Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Robert O'Brien. At back, to the right of Trump, is then-national security adviser John Bolton. President Donald Trump says he plans to name O'Brien to be his new national security adviser. [JACQUELYN MARTIN | AP]

He has also worked on the case of missing U.S. journalist Austin Tice, who was captured in Syria in 2012. O'Brien has said he is confident Tice is still alive though it's unclear who is holding him.

The White House sent O'Brien to Sweden to monitor the case of A$AP Rocky, who was charged with assault. The rapper, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, was permitted to return to Los Angeles to await the verdict of a Swedish court that found him guilty in a street brawl.

Last month, the wife of a Princeton University graduate student detained in Iran told reporters that she would like to see the same level of personal attention from the government as A$AP Rocky received.

O'Brien previously helped lead the department's public-private partnership for justice reform in Afghanistan during the Bush and Obama administrations.

He began to emerge as a front-runner to replace Bolton last week when it became clear that an early favorite, Iran envoy Brian Hook, would face opposition from hawks who think he has not been tough enough on Iran, according to Republicans familiar with the matter.

Another short-listed candidate, North Korea envoy, Stephen Biegun, was taken out of the mix when Pompeo suggested he might be better placed as Deputy Secretary of State to replace John Sullivan, who is widely expected to be nominated to be the next U.S. ambassador to Russia, officials said.

From 2008 through 2011, O'Brien was a presidentially appointed member of a government committee that advises on issues related to the trafficking of antiquities and other cultural items. In 2005, President George W. Bush nominated O'Brien to be U.S. Representative to the U.N. General Assembly, where he worked with Bolton. O'Brien was confirmed by the Senate.

He also was an adviser on the Republican presidential campaigns of former Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Earlier in his career, O'Brien was a senior legal officer for the U.N. Security Council commission that decided claims against Iraq that arose from the Gulf War. He was a major in the U.S. Army Reserve.

O'Brien has a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and co-founded a law firm in Los Angeles focused on litigation and international arbitration issues. O'Brien is the author of "While America Slept," a collection of essays on U.S. national security and foreign policy billed as a "wake-up call to the American people."

The book warned that the world had become more dangerous “under President Obama’s lead-from-behind foreign policy.”



ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. FILE - This June 2, 2017, file image made from video shows the Trump National Doral in Doral, Fla. President Donald Trump said on Twitter on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, he is reversing his plan to hold the next Group of Seven world leaders' meeting at his Doral, Florida, golf resort. (AP Photo/Alex Sanz, File) ALEX SANZ  |  AP
    The chief of staff called Trump’s sudden change of course — announced by the president on Twitter Saturday evening — “the right decision.”
  2. An Army carry team transfers the remains of Staff Sgt. Aaron R. Butler at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Friday. Butler died Wednesday of injuries sustained from an IED in Afghanistan.
    The soldiers were with the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team and were in a Bradley fighting vehicle. They were not immediately identified.
  3. Move over, Honeycrisp: New apple to debut at grocery stores
  4. Brooklyn-based product design company MSCHF retrofitted a dozen Nike Air Max 97 shoes with holy water injected into the bubble soles to create its "Jesus Shoes". YouTube
    Brooklyn-based product design company MSCHF retrofitted a dozen Nike Air Max 97 shoes and injected holy water into the soles.
  5. Oil Sands mining operations at the Syncrude Canada Oil Sands project near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, on June 13, 2017. (Photo by Larry MacDougal, © Imago via ZUMA Press) IMAGO  |  ZUMAPRESS.com
    The New York attorney general says Exxon used two sets of books and misled investors by downplaying the potential costs of carbon emissions.
  6. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks as Vice President Mike Pence listens during a news conference at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. The U.S. and Turkey agreed to a five-day cease-fire in the Turks' attacks on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria to allow the Kurds to withdraw to roughly 20 miles away from the Turkish border. The arrangement appeared to be a significant embrace of Turkey's position in the weeklong conflict. BURHAN OZBILICI  |  AP
    Thursday’s deal called for a five-day pause in fighting between Turkish and Kurdish fighters and put a temporary halt to the battle along the Syrian border.
  7. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    “Don’t kid yourselves,” he said of the Democrats, “I really don’t believe anymore that they love our country.”
  8. FILE - This June 2, 2017 file frame from video shows the Trump National Doral in Doral, Fla. The White House says it has chosen President Donald Trump's golf resort in Miami as the site for next year's Group of Seven summit. ALEX SANZ  |  AP
    The G-7 summit will be held from June 10 to 12. The idea of holding the event at Trump’s resort has been criticized by government ethics watchdogs.
  9. US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, arrives for a joint interview with the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS  |  AP
    Sondland said he was disappointed Trump instructed him to work with Giuliani, a directive that sidestepped the role of the State Department and National Security Council.
  10. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., listens while speaking with reporters after a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington. ALEX BRANDON  |  AP
    President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chalked up the latest explosive meeting that ended abruptly with a walkout at the White House.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement