And the winner of the who is going to be National Security Advisor John Bolton’s replacement lottery is:
Readers will be forgiven for not having heard of the gentleman, but as it happens, he’s been with the Trump Administration for a while and in some interesting capacities. President Donald Trump made the announcement himself in his customary manner.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 18, 2019
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.
News of this appointment took some time to be processed by the news media, suggesting the name was not leaked prior to the president’s tweet. No biographical stories or five things you need to know pieces have appeared as of this writing. That is sure to change in the next twenty-four hours, though.
The pick, though, is popular with a number of people in the swamp.
Congratulations to my friend Robert O’Brien, who the President has appointed to serve as National Security Advisor. As the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, he has doggedly pursued the release of American hostages abroad. He is a man of the highest integrity.
— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) September 18, 2019
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.”
We will be watching to see how O’Brien’s tenure works out given the revolving door of the Trump Administration. Whatever the case, O’Brien’s record of hostage negotiation seems to be in the black. That should be a good sign.