President Trump picked Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Robert O’Brien to be his fourth national security advisor, replacing recently departed John Bolton.
O’Brien, who previously served as a foreign policy adviser to the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and Scott Walker, was named to the envoy role in May 2018 and granted ambassador status a year later.
He served as co-chairman of the State Department’s Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan in both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. In the late ’90s, he was a legal officer at the United Nations Security Council.
“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 tweeted today.
Appearing with Trump before Air Force One departed in Los Angeles, where the president is on a West Coast fundraising swing, O’Brien said that “it’s a privilege to serve with the president and we look forward to another year and a half of peace through strength.”
“We’ve got a number of challenges, but there’s a great team in place with Secretary Pompeo and Secretary Esper, Secretary Mnuchin, and others,” he added. “And I look forward to working with them and working with the president to keep America safe and continue to rebuild our military and really get us back to a peace-through-strength posture that will keep the American people safe from the many challenges around the world today.”
Trump said he thought he and O’Brien “have a very good chemistry together, and I think we’re going to have a great relationship.”
“I think it’s a very important role,” Trump said of the advisor position. “It’s really a role that, if the president respects the person that’s the advisor, I think it really plays a very, very important role.”
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said O’Brien’s “first act as National Security Advisor must be to bring back the position of White House Cybersecurity Coordinator.”
“Despite concerns raised when the position was eliminated last year, the White House has done little to address the vacuum left behind,” Thompson said in a statement. “With cyber threats becoming more sophisticated and growing by the day, including the persistent threat to our election systems, there is no reason that the White House should have allowed this position to be eliminated.”