Who is Robert O'Brien, Trump's national security adviser pick?

Cheryl Sanders
September 20, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday picked U.S. hostage negotiator Robert O'Brien as national security adviser, replacing hardliner John Bolton who was sacked abruptly last week after clashing with the president on a host of issues.

Trump announced that he has selected State Department hostage negotiator Robert O'Brien in Los Angeles, "which explains why the guy looks like the second male lead on Suits", Colbert said.

"I have worked long and hard with Robert", Trump tweeted in his announcement of the replacement.

Trump forced Bolton, a leading foreign policy hawk, out last week, saying he "strongly" disagreed with his national security adviser on multiple issues. Also, Bolton's confrontational style had alienated him from key members of the administration, chiefly Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The choice of Pompeo's aide has prompted speculation that the Secretary of State will have a greater say on Trump's national security and diplomacy.


"Well, I was critical of John Bolton for getting us involved with a lot of other people in the Middle East", he told reporters during a visit to the U.S. -Mexico border south of San Diego.

The possibility of ending a conflict that seems to accomplish nothing positive for American national security was reportedly anathema to Bolton.

According to a Wednesday Politico report, Bolton took the opportunity to bash President Donald Trump's foreign policies during a private event hosted by conservative think tank Gatestone Institute. In the most unusual episode, O´Brien was dispatched to U.S. ally Sweden to attend the trial of United States rapper ASAP Rocky, who was accused of assault. O' Brien was confirmed by the Senate.

In June, Trump said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has "kept his word" when it comes to nuclear and missile testing - a direct contradiction of Bolton, who just hours earlier had accused Pyongyang of failing to follow through on its commitments. After advising now-Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), a fellow Mormon, in his failed 2008 and 2012 presidential runs, O'Brien worked for Walker, one of the first candidates to drop out in 2016, and then Cruz, ultimately Trump's runner-up for the Republican nomination.

"He is the opposite of Teddy Roosevelt: He is strolling loudly and carrying a twig", said Tim O'Brien, a Trump biographer.


"As the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, he has doggedly pursued the release of American hostages overseas", Romney added.

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.

O'Brien is the co-founding partner of Larson O'Brien LLP in Los Angeles, a litigation firm.

With pressure mounting on Trump to attack Iran after unproven accusations that it was involved in an attack on Saudi oil facilities, the President's national security team may find itself without allies in the effort. "On foreign policy and the role of the U.S.in the world, those remain consistent".


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