National Security Adviser

Trump names Robert O’Brien, hostage negotiator, as national security adviser

President Trump named his chief hostage negotiator as his national security adviser Wednesday, filling the role for a fourth time as he plots a stern response to Iran’s suspected role in attacking Saudi oil fields last weekend. Robert C. O’Brien will replace John R. Bolton, who was ousted last week amid clashes with key White House aides and Mr. Trump on topics such as Iran, North Korea and Venezuela. As the U.S. special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, Mr. O’Brien endeared himself to Mr. Trump by working to secure the release of pastor Andrew Brunson from Turkey and Americans held in Afghanistan, Libya and Yemen. He also spoke to Sweden about rapper A$AP Rocky’s legal troubles after an incident in Stockholm. “He did a tremendous job on hostage negotiations. Really tremendous, like unparalleled. We’ve had tremendous success in that regard,” Mr. Trump told White House reporters traveling with him in California. “I think we have a very good chemistry together, and I think we’re going to have a great relationship. He is a very talented man.” Mr. O’Brien, who accompanied Mr. Trump, called it a privilege to serve with the president. “We’ve got a number of challenges,” he said, “but there’s a great team in place.” The president is promoting Mr. O’Brien as he weighs a response to Iran’s suspected role in drone attacks Saturday that temporarily shut down half of the Saudi oil production. “We’ll see what happens. We have many options that we’re considering. There are many options,” Mr. Trump said. Mr. Trump heads to New York for the U.N. General Assembly session next week, meaning Mr. O’Brien could have an immediate impact. The national security adviser does not have to be confirmed by the Senate. “Robert’s a very experienced foreign policy figure with deep knowledge of United Nations, international organizations,” said Nile Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at The Heritage Foundation. He worked alongside Mr. O’Brien on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential bid. “He’s a safe pair of hands,” Mr. Gardiner said. “He’s somebody who I think has very good instincts, a very good understanding of the challenges facing the United States as leader of the free world.” Mr. O’Brien worked under President George W. Bush as a representative to the U.N., continuing in Mr. Bolton’s footsteps as a Trump official with connections to the last Republican administration. Mr. Trump has grown tired of Bush veterans. Besides Mr. Bolton, his aides included Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who sparred with Mr. Trump over immigration before her ouster. Mr. Bolton fought with top administration officials, but Mr. O’Brien is viewed as a team player. Mr. Trump, who bills himself as a deal-maker, was impressed by his track record as a negotiator. Mr. O’Brien has been “incredibly effective as the ambassador for these hostage negotiations,” said Kenneth R. Weinstein, president of the Hudson Institute. “He’s someone who has gone in, under the radar, and handles sensitive negotiations in a low-key manner.” Mr. Trump hailed Mr. O’Brien from the Oval Office in March during a welcome-home ceremony for Danny Burch, an oil worker held in Yemen for 18 months. In turn, Mr. O’Brien praised Mr. Trump for working to bring home Americans through “force of will,” without concessions or payments. Mr. O’Brien wrote a book in 2016, “While America Slept,” that was critical of President Obama’s 2015 nuclear pact with Iran and compared it to the appeasement of Adolf Hitler at Munich in 1938. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who wants a muscular approach to Iran, said Mr. O’Brien is a good choice who will keep Mr. Trump on the right path. “He understands the world for the dangerous place it is. He’s got great negotiating skills as our hostage negotiator,” Mr. Graham said. “I think he will be a very sound policy adviser to the president of the United States.” Mr. O’Brien will be the president’s fourth national security adviser in less than three years.

While Mr. O’Brien’s credentials as a hostage negotiator, and accomplished attorney, are very solid, we do have some reservations about him taking on this new role as the President’s National Security Adviser.  Mr. O’Brien’s only military background was in the Army Reserves as a JAG officer (military lawyer).  So, not exactly much in the way of a national security background.  Raised Catholic, he converted to Mormonism in his twenties, and with this new appointment is the highest ranking Later Day Saint in our federal government.  We wish Mr. O’Brien all the best in this extremely important role.

Trump’s pick for National Security Adviser, LTG H.R. McMaster, wins praise

Moving quickly to fill a critical White House vacancy, President Trump named Army Lieutenant General (LTG) H.R. McMaster as national security adviser Monday, one week after ousting retired LTG Michael Flynn. Mr. Trump has favored military men for top security and anti-terrorism roles in the administration and turned to a career soldier with a reputation as a cutting-edge strategist for his closest security and foreign policy adviser, the one who controls the flow of information from the national security bureaucracy to Mr. Trump’s desk. LTG McMaster, 54, has been serving as director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center and deputy commanding general of futures at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. “He is man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience,” Mr. Trump said when announcing the appointment at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida before returning to Washington. “I’ve watched and read a lot over the last days. He is highly respected by everyone in the military, and we are very honored to have him.” In 2014, Time magazine named Mr. McMaster as one of its 100 most influential people in the world, saying he “might be the 21st century Army’s pre-eminent warrior-thinker.” The president moved quickly to find a replacement for Mr. Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general who was forced to resign after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about phone conversations he had with Russia’s ambassador to Washington during the presidential transition period. The White House said there had been an “erosion of trust” with Mr. Flynn. During a visit to Brussels on Monday, Mr. Pence said he was disappointed that Mr. Flynn had not been candid with him. Mr. McMaster joined Mr. Trump for the announcement at Mar-a-Lago, where the president spent the holiday weekend. In brief remarks, Mr. McMaster said he was grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the country. “I look forward to being on the national security team and doing everything I can to advance and protect the interests of the American people,” he said.

Fair enough!  LTG H.R. McMaster is an outstanding choice!  Those of us who have been Army “field grade” officers his book “Dereliction of Duty,” as it’s been on many of our required reading lists.  Excellent!!    🙂