Robert C. O'Brien has been the Trump administration's special envoy for hostage affairs.
Robert C. O’Brien has been the Trump administration’s special envoy for hostage affairs. [Harmony Gerber | Getty Images]

Trump Names Robert O’Brien, Top Hostage Czar, As National Security Adviser

Posted on:

< < Back to

Updated at 10:59 a.m. ET

President Trump has named Robert C. O’Brien, who has been his special envoy for hostage affairs, to be his new national security adviser.

Trump made the announcement in a Wednesday morning tweet.

“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. I have worked long & hard with Robert. He will do a great job!” Trump said.

O’Brien replaces John Bolton, who was forced out by Trump earlier this month. O’Brien will be the president’s fourth national security adviser in less than three years in office.

Prior to his appointment, O’Brien had been perhaps best known for his efforts to win the release of American rapper A$AP Rocky, who was held in a Swedish jail after being arrested for his involvement in a Stockholm brawl.

Before that, O’Brien had worked in other State Department roles, including as a member of Bolton’s team during the administration of President George W. Bush, according to O’Brien’s official biography.

National security insiders welcomed the appointment.

Patrick Cronin, Asia-Pacific Security Chair for the Hudson Institute, said O’Brien has a “razor-sharp mind and a diplomatic demeanor.”

And Andrew Exum, who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy toward the end of President Barack Obama’s administration, wrote on Twitter that O’Brien is a good man who’s been given a “challenging role.”

O’Brien does not require Senate confirmation to move into his new job. He will be Trump’s fourth national security adviser and enter an administration that has become known for turnover.

Trump entered office with retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, who was removed due to his role in the Russia imbroglio and who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

Taking his place was Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, with whom Trump did not click personally. The split between those two men created the opening that Bolton filled last year.

Bolton’s commentary on Fox News and elsewhere appealed to Trump, but his hawkish positions once he was back inside government ultimately estranged him from the president and other advisers.

White House correspondent Ayesha Rascoe contributed to this report.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit