Trump names hostage envoy O'Brien national security adviser

WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.

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.

Related: Donald Trump holds a rally in North Carolina

25 PHOTOS
Donald Trump holds a rally in North Carolina
See Gallery
Donald Trump holds a rally in North Carolina
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
North Carolina’s 9th District Republican candidate Dan Bishop shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
North Carolina’s 9th District Republican candidate Dan Bishop (L) and South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham listen as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
North Carolina’s 9th District Republican candidate Dan Bishop hugs U.S. President Donald Trump during a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
North Carolina’s 9th District Republican candidate Dan Bishop holds up his phone as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
North Carolina Republican candidate Dan Bishop listens to U.S. President Donald Trump speak at a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
A "Trump 2020" campaign poster is seen on a fir alarm during a campaign rally by U.S. President Donald Trump in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump attend a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Republican nominee Dan Bishop during a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump attend a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump attend a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump attend a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump attend a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump attend a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump attend a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

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."

____

Associated Press writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.