Rabat – US President Donald Trump appointed Robert O’Brien as his newest National Security Adviser Wednesday, September 18.
Trump announced the appointment via Twitter.
The civilian lawyer was serving as the State Department’s Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs. O’Brien was selected from a short list of five choices, according to sources.
The hostage negotiator assumes the position as several global tensions mount to critical mass.
“We’ve got a number of challenges but there’s a great team in place,” O’Brien said. “I look forward to working with them and working with the president to keep America safe and continue to rebuild our military.”
O’Brien is Trump’s fourth appointment for the position since assuming office in 2017. O’Brien follows John Bolton, HR McMaster, and Michael Flynn in this top security position, which requires only a unilateral presidential appointment.
O’Brien’s appointment was met with support from Trump adviser Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Sources describe O’Brien as an affable non-threatening replacement for the hawkish Bolton. O’Brien’s relative lack of experience in foreign policy has raised concerns with some critics.
“I think the greatest challenge he will have is his relative lack of experience inside the U.S. government, and with the interagency process, given that a gigantic part of the job is coordinating the interagency process,” explained Richard Fontaine, Center for a New American Security CEO.
O’Brien has expressed views questioning the UN, and voiced criticism over the Iran nuclear deal. He has called Iran “the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.”
President Trump sent the hostage negotiator to Sweden to negotiate the release of rapper ASAP Rocky in August. The rapper was pending trial and was later found guilty of criminal assault charges.
A California native, O’Brien received his law degree from UC Berkeley, then joined the Army Reserve Judge Advocate General Corps. O’Brien built on his civil law career as a member of the California Bar Association.
Over the course of his career, O’Brien has served both Republicans and Democrats in several State Department positions. He has also advised on foreign policy for Republican presidential campaigns, including for Mitt Romney and Scott Walker.
“I think we have a very good chemistry together, and I think we’re going to have a great relationship,” President Trump said. “He is a very talented man.”