Trump taps top hostage negotiator to replace Bolton


U.S. President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he is appointing special envoy for hostage negotiations, Robert C. O’Brien, to replace former National Security Advisor John Bolton.

“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,” Trump announced on Twitter. “He will do a great job!”

Trump does not require senate confirmation to fill the role, making O’Brien’s appointment certain barring a last-minute change of heart by Trump, or O’Brien’s rejection of the post. O’Brien has yet to issue a statement on the matter.  

The president abruptly ousted Bolton last week following a tenure marked by major policy splits with Trump, a fact the president pointed to in stark terms in the aftermath of the ouster.

O’Brien will become Trump’s fourth national security advisor after Michael Flynn, H.R. McMaster, and Bolton, who held the post for the longest tenure followed by McMaster.  

Trump floated O’Brien’s name Tuesday to serve as his new national security advisor. 

Unlike Bolton, he is known for his soft-spoken demeanor and reluctance to engage in outright military confrontations. Bolton, however, had been a prominent hawkish voice in the administration on matters ranging from Venezuela to North Korea and Iran.

O’Brien has served as Trump’s top hostage negotiator since May 2018, and had worked in that role as the U.S. government’s point-person on hostage issues, working with families of Americans held captive abroad. 

Trump dispatched O’Brien to secure the release of rapper A$AP Rocky from prison in Sweden, earlier this year.

A lawyer by training, he served in the Bush administration beginning in 2005 as the U.S. Representative to the 60th session of the United Nations General Assembly, and served in a variety of roles in ensuing years before joining Trump’s team. 

O’Brien is coming to office amid a volatile situation in the Middle East where the U.S. is increasingly pointing the finger at Iran for attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia that upended the Kingdom’s oil output. Those attacks have been claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, which are supported by Tehran. 

Iran, however, has denied responsibility for the incidents.
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