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Trump Picks Hostage Negotiator as Next National Security Adviser

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Trump Picks Hostage Negotiator as Next National Security Adviser

2019-09-18 18:45:08

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Robert C. O'Brien (Image source: Public domain)

Unlike some other positions in Donald Trump's administration, former national security adviser John Bolton's seat is being filled fairly quickly, which is a good thing with everything going on in the Middle East.

Trump and Bolton had many clashes, and Trump admitted in his tweet announcing that Bolton was no longer with the administration that he disagreed with him too much. They couldn't even agree on his exit, with Trump insisting he fired him and Bolton insisting he left voluntarily. 

Regardless, he lasted only a year in the position. Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was forced out of office and is awaiting trial for lying to the FBI in the Russia investigation.

Trump's second national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, didn't get along with others in the administration and was accused of not being conservative enough. He was forced out of office one month after stating that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. A few weeks later Bolton stepped in.  

Trump has named Robert C. O'Brien as the new national security adviser. He currently serves as the U.S. hostage negotiator.

"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," tweeted the president. "I have worked long and hard with Robert. He will do a great job!" 

O'Brien also worked closely with Secretary of State Mike Pomeo on multiple hostage cases of Americans detained in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Libya, including Pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey.

An attorney, O'Brien was nominated by the late President George W. Bush as the U.S. Alternate Representative of the U.N. and was also Co-Chair of the State Department's Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan. Former President George W. Bush appointed him as a member of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee. 

"All I have to say is that @robertcobrien is a really, really good person and that I wish him all the best in what will certainly be a challenging role," tweeted the former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy during the Obama administration, Andrew Exum.

With everything going on in the Middle East, inside the Trump administration the national security team wanted as little "drama" as possible while Trump goes through his reelection campaign, and according to a senior official, O'Brien was the "safest option." 

"He gets along with everybody," added the official. "He's the nicest guy on the planet," which is seen as the complete opposite of Bolton, who had revamped the policy process that required fewer meetings for officials to express their views.

A policy process that doesn't create new opposing factions is hoped for, especially by Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. 

In another plus for Trump, O'Brien will become the highest-ranking Mormon in the government, which is a demographic Trump can grab for 2020.

In the past, O'Brien has praised Trump for having "unparalleled success" in bringing hostages home, though when he showed up in Stockholm this summer at the trial of rapper A$AP Rocky, Trump was called out for inappropriate intervention in the legal matters of a U.S. ally. 

The position of national security adviser does not require the Senate to confirm the appointment.

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